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would then appear that in order to get the kind of world
we want, the first task is the effective planting of the
Church in every land, that each people may have within
itself the spring of an indigenous Christian life which shall
pervade and transform and mould the entire national
being. What is needed is the creation everywhere of
distributing centres of Christian life and principle.

These considerations may well lead the Christian doctor,
lawyer, or engineer, who has admitted the greater claim
upon himself of service overseas, to ask himself the
further question whether he can serve most fruitfully by
simply practising as an individual Christian man of
business in some foreign land, or by joining, for example,
the staff of some mission college, and thus helping to send
out into that country a steady stream of indigenous
Christian doctors and lawyers and engineers. It is the
difference between a life whose influence works by simple
addition, and one which works by arithmetical progression.

To those who feel called to devote their lives to the
ministry of the Church these questions come with ever
greater force. They know that the new order all men
long for can come only through changed lives ; and that
the Church alone has the secret of changed lives. They
know further that it is the very function of the Church to
be everywhere the pattern and exemplar of the perfect
social organism permeating and transforming the whole of
national life into its own likeness and fellowship. And
more they know that the Church is the one true * inter-
national ', uniting in a single world-fellowship peoples
and tribes of every race and colour.

The point is worth developing. To many it is clear that



74 WHERE SHALL I WORK

it is the Church alone which can make effective the ideals
of the League of Nations, and realize those visions of
a better age by which men live and for which so many
myriads have been content in these last years to die.
A Christianity, therefore, that is mainly European is
simply irrelevant to the world's needs to-day. Moreover,
such a Christianity will inevitably be so onesided in
character and expression as to become untrue. Not
separately or by sectional culture, but all together can
we advance to the knowledge and perfect expression of the
Truth. Each needs all and all need each in the great
Church of God. Just as it was a cavalry ride in Palestine
that turned the issue on the Western front, so a signal
Christian triumph in the farther East may revivify and
reinspire the whole Church of the West.

The Christian commission is a world commission. There
were no home commissions in the King's Army ; there are
none in the army of Christ Jesus. The field is the world.
For the soldiers of our army in the war there was but
a single front, the world front. The location of each man's
service was decided by a single question : where was he
most needed just then ? To that one spot he went.
God's commission is even wider than the King's. No
selfish motives may limit our obedience or our response
to the call of the greatest need. It is this complete
abandon which will add the needed salt of sacrifice to our
service. It is the element of adventure that saves our
lives by introducing the strain of the heroic.

The test by which we decide the sphere of our service
thus assumes a slightly expanded form. ' Where is the
one place in all the world where my life can count most
for bringing in the world-kingdom of God, on which all
else depends ? ' And to none does this challenge come
with such binding force as to the officers of Christ's army,
the ministers of His Church. The answer calls for remorse-



WHERE SHALL I WORK 75

less honesty. The writer recollects a mother who had
urged that she loved her son too much to let him be
a missionary far from home, yet expected to be congratu-
lated when, a few months later, another son passed into
the Indian Civil Service !

How are we to know where God would have us serve ?
Mystical or supernatural indications of the divine will
come to few. Failing some such providential guidance,
we can but face the facts and place ourselves in readiness
to go where the need seems greatest. If special call be
needed, it is needed to justify a man in staying to meet
what seems on the face of it the smaller want at home.
Take but a single contrast. At home five thousand of our
clergy are ministering to less than five hundred people
each. Abroad, for lack of helpers our missionaries in mass
movement areas have to repel from Christian instruction
and baptism multitudes anxious to be admitted to the
flock of Christ. Ought these things to be ? Are we going
to allow them to be so any longer ?

The world to-day is a single front. Distinctions between
home and foreign are to the thinking man irrelevant. Not
England, but the post of greatest need has the first claim
on our service. Failing authoritative direction or some
providential indication of God's will for us, we can but do
our best to face the fact accordingly. In so far as the
initiative lies with us, we cannot shirk responsibility.
Until the overwhelming balance of unequal distribution
is redressed, each man of us will have to show cause why
he should not go abroad. There lies the obvious call of the
greater need.

But things will not be long left uncertain. First,
friends will be consulted and their counsel given its full
weight. All available facts will be ascertained and studied.
We will spare ourselves no pains or thorough thought.
But in the last resort it is on our knees that light will



76 WitEEE SHALL I WORK

come and the decision be made, humbly and trustfully.
Prayer will have the chief place, for prayer alone can give
the atmosphere for clear thinking and right judging. And
the soul that singly seeks to do the Will of God shall
surely have enough of light to know that Will. If in any
real sense God wills anything at all, that is to say, if there
is a real plan of God that depends on man's co-operation,
God must have taken means to ensure that His willing
servants shall know enough to be able to do what He
wants of them. Else life becomes a crazy irrationality.
The thing that clouds our perception is unwillingness to
do it. On the other hand we seldom know, or need to
know, more than the thing which God would have us do
to-day. Light is given to take the next step, when the
time to take that step has come, light enough to make
obedience possible, not to satisfy curiosity or to give us
knowledge of the future in advance. If without one
reservation we singly seek to do the Will of God, we can
with serenest confidence be sure of light enough to take
the next step rightly ; that is all. Each step will be
made in faith ; often it will be a very hesitating step ;
but looking back we shall see that all steps so taken have
been along the straight path of God's Will for us.



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Online LibraryA. (Arthur) Clutton-BrockEssays on vocation → online text (page 6 of 6)