A number of years ago I was honored to tour the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC during its early stages of construction. It was fascinating to see the drawings and video concepts that would make their way to the completed project which now houses the most state of the art and technologically advanced experience promoting the life changing word of God the world has ever known.
What was really cool about walking through the building during construction were the verses of scripture that filled the I-beams, unfinished walls and floors. Each of us were given sharpie pens and encouraged to write the word of God and prayers on the large steel beams and support posts that would hold everything in place. And although they would never be seen, the building would not stand without them.
This reminds me of a verse in the book of Galatians where the apostle Paul finds approval for his ministry to the gentiles in the eyes of the Jerusalem leadership. In fact, he pays respect to three men in particular, listen to Galatians 2:9 “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
Now don’t miss the phrase “seemed to be pillars.” We use the term pillar to describe someone who is an upstanding member of a community. Paul was using the word to describe these men who had authority and respect in the leadership of the church. Now I have been thinking a lot about the word pillar, and even comparing it to the word post. It may be that the church world has far too many posts and not enough pillars. So, for the sake of conversation let’s just compare the two.
Let’s take a look at posts. A post is something that we see a lot around here in Southern Ohio. They’re everywhere holding up signs, keeping livestock in fields, and occasionally providing a place for birds to nest. The problem is however, that a post stands alone most of the time, and in many cases, it is only good for a while then it has to be replaced. As Christians, we are not made to stand alone. We need the fellowship and strength that we find in fellowship with other believers. And it’s not about being seen either. If we are not careful, we can get wrapped up in what others see in us and forget that the one who really matters is God and what he sees in us. You know I think that I would rather be a pillar than a post and here’s why.
A pillar is something that is strategically placed in a certain place by the master builder. It is put there for a reason, a purpose if you will. It is not always noticed and sometimes never seen. But it is so important that the building cannot stand without it. I’ve met Christians like this and so have you. They’re not the ones that are the most visible, they are not drawn to the spotlight. But their faithful service and support of the church make it what it is today. They do not stand alone but together for the cause of Christ. Their names are not found in magazines or heard on radio and television. But these are those who know the master builder well, and he knows them by name. The more I think about it, I don’t want to just seem to be a pillar, I want to truly be one! Do we need pillars today you ask? You bet! We need pillars in homes, in communities, in governments and certainly in churches.
I have heard it said that a tree is best measured when it is down. And the truth is that when we have gone it will be most apparent what we have been in this life. A pillar or a post. A brief, simple, but expressive eulogy was pronounced by Martin Luther upon a pastor at Zwickau in 1522 named Nicholas Haussmann. “What we preach, he lived,” said the great reformer. Now that’s a pillar!
Years ago, the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior. Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others. So, let me ask you today, are you a pillar or a post?