BLOG: What Good Is Henry?

Written by
Melissa H. Strautman, LMT

Companion blog to “The Believer’s Judgment” from Pastor Steve Wilson

Imagine a person, coffee and donut in hand, just wandering around at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center attacks. There he is, amongst the mangled steel and human loss saying words of affirmation, wearing an “I Care!” t-shirt. He doesn’t get in anyone’s way or disturb anything important. He’s just there. That night, at the neighborhood barbecue, someone inquires as to what he did that day. Henry, we’ll call him, tells everyone that he spends his days at Ground Zero. Everyone is very impressed.

Henry is either a few pancakes short of a Rooty-Tooty-Fresh-and-Fruity from the IHOP, or just a faker. You see, Henry is showing up at what most would consider a sacred work site, where significant work is being done, and he’s doing nothing productive to help. To top it off, he’s getting credit for being caring and sacrificial when he isn’t. Electricians, coroners, fireman, structural engineers and policeman, who’ve trained for years to become mature in their professions, are on site working until they drop of exhaustion. I imagine that you feel the contrast between Henry and the real workers.

It’s not good enough that Henry merely knows the tragic story and understands the heroic sacrifices. It’s not good enough that he’s just there. Henry needs to roll up his sleeves and help.

Having lived just outside the city during 9-11, I saw dozens of grand funeral processions for slain heroes and massaged[1] more than my fair share of traumatized emergency workers and civilians. Whole towns would stop what they were doing and line the streets. There could be endless lines of police/fire vehicles, horses, bagpipes and soldiers firing gun-salutes. You could rarely go into a restaurant/bar in those first few months and not see a lavish funeral party going on. Every night on the local news there were stories of mortgages being paid off and college funds being set up for the families of the slain heroes because in-house benevolent funds had long run out. Men like Henry will never see these honors or rewards.

Separating the Sheep

So it also is with us Christians. 1 Corinthians 3:5-16 illustrates a Believer’s Judgement[2] for us where our individual deeds are assessed by God. These deeds are not merely good deeds, they are particular deeds done by mature Christians that build up the body of Christ.

So, now might be a perfect moment to evaluate your Believer’s bank account. I certainly don’t want to come up short on that day after all my Lord has done for me! I want to be the richest kid on the block for His glory! I want Him to get all excited when He opens my bank account. I want Him to give me a great big hug (or heaven’s appropriate equivalent) and say, “Thank you for working so hard for Me. You have done such a good job.” I can’t think of anything better than that; can you?

Well, it does get better. I must have read this passage a dozen times and never zeroed in on the part where we get great rewards for all the things we do to help build up the body of Christ. I assumed it just meant the reward was living in heaven with God forever. What else could we want, right? No, it means we will actually get real rewards. I have no idea what that means explicitly (crowns are used to describe them), but it means MORE good gifts coming from our Father. For those whose deeds did nothing to build up the body of Christ…well, it’s not such a good moment.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15
13each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

A hefty Believer’s bank account starts with The Great Commission.

I always thought that The Great Commission[3] was about missionaries going out to the jungle or to the homeless shelters and just getting the people “saved.” Wrong! The actual goal is not salvation but teaching believers to observe all that Jesus commands. Stop the bus! Teaching them to live out “all” of what Jesus wants? That could take a new convert’s whole lifetime. I’m not even there yet! How could missionaries possibly do this?

Perhaps God meant for the Great Commission to be carried out by those dedicated to a lifetime of professional ministry; like preachers and theologians? The rest of us have ordinary lives to live, jobs and families to raise. We aren’t “called to ministry” beyond just getting saved and going to church.

Buckle Your Seat Belt

The Apostle Paul expounds on this so that there can be no confusion. God was talking to YOU and ME!  He does the saving, and together with Him we have to build on that foundation. Yes, I mean build: with real specific work. And it’s your church leader’s/teacher’s job[4] to specifically prepare you for whatever that is by helping you become a mature believer; moving on from Christian babyhood. As we grow, we will discover the gifts God has already given us individually for the building up of the body. He tells us that every church “is equipped” with every thing and every person to accomplish what He wants to be done…we just have to show up for work and work “properly.”  No Henrys!

Ephesians 4:11-16
11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12to equip the saints [us] for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

If coming to church on Sunday and just getting refreshed by an uplifting message is all you intend to do, then you need to see the shame in that. God gave you gifts and a command use them. DO NOT WASTE THEM! The preaching that you hear is training for your Christian calling. What did you learn from the sermon? What will you do with what you just learned? That preacher is not trying to re-convince you to become saved (I hope); he’s shoving tools in your hands so that you can get to work. The church is our sacred job site. Now, grab a pair of gloves and get to work growing to maturity and helping others do the same. BUILD!

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[1] I’ve been a massage therapist since 1999.

[2] A Believer’s Judgment is not to be confused with the Great White Throne Judgement that comes first and separates the believers from unbelievers.

[3] Matt 28:19-20

[4] Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17