Will you please remember that their knocking at our door is a direct result of our knocking at their door? They are very polite, these far-away kinsfolk of ours. They are simply returning our call.
The missionary, from Great Britain, and America, and Europe, has been the West's pathfinder in these foreign-mission lands. He has blazed a way into these thick woods, and beaten down narrow foot-paths through them. It's been hard, heroic work. The pathfinder has often gotten his hands and face badly torn by the thick brambly thorn bushes as he pushed resolutely on.
Then diplomacy entered and broadened the roads. And commerce quickly came and beat them down into good hard shape for easy travel. And in turn the missionaries have freely used the broader, better roads.
And now these roads are being trodden by other feet, and in an opposite direction. Along the pathways made by the Church, and made better by diplomacy and commerce, these peoples are coming, coming a-running, to ask us to give them what we have. We received it from Another. He bade us give it as freely as we received it.
Here they come eagerly knocking at our doors, front door, and back door, and wherever there is a door. Do you hear them?
Ah! The great question today is not a question for the heathen world, but for the Christian Church—shall we respond to the opportunity they are flinging in our faces? To-day there are more hands in heathen lands stretched out for the Gospel of Jesus than there are Christian hands stretched out with the Gospel. More hearts in those far-away lands are dumbly praying for the light than there are of us praying that they may receive the light—far more.
The greatest question for the Church today is—shall we enter the open door? And this is a key-question, too. Its answer includes a full satisfactory answer to all the other questions we are discussing. All questions of finance, of uncertain wabbling pulpit voices, of careless and indifferent or empty pews, and of city evangelization will quickly find an answer as the Church fully and faithfully answers this. Here is the work that, if done, and well done, will bring a new circulation of blood into the whole life of the Church.
Have you noticed the sharp contrast that there is gradually growing up between the way people at home and these foreign peoples are receiving the Gospel? Out there there is an openness to the truth, an eager willingness to believe it simply, and to act upon it, that suggests the way they did in the Book of Acts. In our home-lands of America and Great Britain and Germany there seems to be either indifference, or an atmosphere of quibble and criticism. With questions and doubts naturalistic explanations are sought that do away with much of the simple force of God's truth.
A like difference is showing itself between the results there and here. Here they are scantier, and gotten with great difficulty; there much larger, and with greater ease. There the door is wide-open, and people crowding in; here there is a feeling that the door is closing, surely and not slowly people turn away elsewhere. There has come to be an unusual proportion of pickles and salads and other relishes served with every spreading of the Gospel meal here. There, just plain unbuttered bread is eagerly and thankfully sought for. They are hungry. And their hunger is a wide-open door to us. We need the exercise of foreign travel, and a great deal of it, to bring back our zest.