Martyn Lloyd-Jones pastored Westminster Chapel in London during World War II. London suffered, with tens of thousands killed or injured. One Sunday, a bomb fell a short distance away while Lloyd-Jones prayed during a service. The sound was tremendous. Windows rattled. Plaster fell. Lloyd-Jones paused for a moment, and then continued to pray.
The man who gave announcements came up when the prayer was over. After he’d completed his task, he dusted Lloyd-Jones off, and then Lloyd-Jones started preaching.
“Why would he do this?” asks Mark Dever. “Because he knew that preaching was the main thing.” Lloyd-Jones had written, “I would say without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.”
With bombs falling, and the future of England in question, Lloyd-Jones kept preaching. We need the same kind of focus today.
Tell Them About Jesus
I read this past week of a sermon that Lesslie Newbigin gave at Spurgeon’s College chapel in London. Newbigin was old, blind, and stooped as he addressed pastors about to be ordained. “When you go out into the ministry, what are you going to do?” he asked. “Some people will want you to be a social worker … But there are professional social workers; why should you do what they do less well?” He continued with other options: counselor, politician, and more, before dismissing them all.
Steve Holmes records Newbigin’s advice:
“‘So what should you do?’ He smiled a true saint’s smile — it lit up most of south London — and gently but urgently said two more sentences.
“‘Tell them about Jesus. Tell them about the wonderful thing that God has done.’”
“And then he sat down.”
Holmes writes, “Twenty-five years later, whenever I look at a preaching gig and wonder what to do with it, because of what’s happening in their life or in my life or just happening, I always end up with the same answer: ‘Tell them about Jesus. Tell them about the wonderful thing that God has done.’”
Lloyd-Jones and Newbigin give us much-needed perspective today.
It’s tempting to get distracted right now. The pandemic. Laws restricting freedoms. The economy. The world in crisis. Add to that the voices calling for us to express our opinions on law and epidemiology.
Lloyd-Jones and Newbigin remind pastors: Stay focused on our most urgent priority. Keep preaching. Stay in your lane. Tell people about Jesus. Tell them about the wonderful things that God has done.
I’m grateful for those who have other callings. I celebrate what God has called them to do. I love that God calls some to be epidemiologist, politicians, and lawyers. I understand the temptation to get distracted.
But the world needs pastors right now who stay focused amidst the chaos and the noise, and who continue to preach and proclaim the good news the world needs most. Let’s pray that we stay focused on this task, and refuse to get distracted by the chaos surrounding us.