Vol.IX No.VI Pg.3
August 1972

Third Class

Dan S. Shipley

Recently, I received a third-class letter marked URGENT. Somehow, I doubted that it was. My doubts were confirmed when I opened the envelope to find an amatuerish effort at personalizing a mimeographed letter. Needless to say, this letter was immediately deposited in file 13 — but I couldnt help thinking about how that envelope had revealed so much about its contents. To me, it said, Whats third-class on the outside is not likely to be first-class on the inside, and Whats urgent on the inside wont be found going around in third-class trappings. It occurred to me that what was true of mail can also be true of Christians -- especially since there is a sense in which Christians are letters, known and read of all men, (2 Cor. 3:2).

For this reason (and others), the Christian should be possessed with an abiding sense of urgency that is in keeping with the nature of his calling. He, of all people, ought to be ever conscious of the brevity and the uncertainty of life, the preciousness of souls, the certainty and consequences of judgment and the power of the gospel to save the lost. In becoming a Christian, one identifies himself with vital and urgent issues. To those among whom he is known and read he is saying, in effect, I intend to actively follow Christ; I am seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. His life-letter reads URGENT and he lives what he claims by constantly redeeming the time in faithful and dedicated service to his Lord, (Eph. 5:16). No, urgent mail doesnt go third class —-neither do urgent Christians!

However, the life of the unfaithful is known and read as being something less than urgent. An outspoken atheist is credited with making this statement in regard to the urgent cause of complacent Christians: Did I firmly believe, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influence destiny in another, religion would mean everything to me. I would cast away earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as follies, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. Religion would be my first waking thought and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. I should labour in its cause alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering... I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable....

This atheist could see what many refuse to see; viz., that many professed Christians are giving third-class handling to what they claim is the most urgent cause in the world. They say that mans soul is his most valuable possession, but live as if pleasures, money or employment were more important. They say the whole world needs the gospel, but will not take it to their next-door neighbor. They say men ought to practice such things as love, patience and forgiveness, but they say and do not—they say URGENT but act third class and sluggish, (Heb. 6:12).

As a letter known and read of men, make sure URGENT, STEDFAST and EARNEST are in context!