It is this marvellous magnet, Jesus, that we are to take to men; not theology, nor education, nor medical skill, nor hospitals, nor industrial helps, except incidentally. These are the tin cup which one is glad to use to give the thirsty traveller water from the spring.
You will understand at once that I have no thought of criticizing theology or of discrediting it, if I could. It has its place. But that place is not out in the thick of the crowd, but back in the quiet hall of study. There must be thorough study and systematic putting together of the truth. There needs to be patient plodding and mental drilling.
You have no need to be told of the immeasurable value of the splendid foundation building of Christian scholars. But this is school work, in the main. It is to make us better workmen. So a man gets his bearings and poise. But the people down in the dust and drive of the crowd don't want theology. They want Jesus. It is striking that everywhere men want to hear about Jesus.
Educational work has played an indispensably great part in the scheme of missions. But the purpose of it, of course, is to make an open door for the entrance of Jesus into men's lives. It is invaluable in itself alone, regardless of any other purpose. But the teacher of any sort of learning in the mission school, who is chiefly absorbed in the teaching itself instead of using it as a means to something higher, is missing the whole purpose of his work.
And what words can be used strong enough in speaking of the blessed work of medical men in foreign-mission lands? These skilled, patient, faithful men and women in hospital and dispensary and private service are doing a work of incalculable value. It should be done even if the bodily results were all. But the underlying purpose through it all is to lead men to know Jesus. And no one has such a short, quick road into a man's heart as he who can relieve his body.
These things are doorways into men's lives; and great doorways, too. They are well worth all the money and lives expended if they went no farther than body and mind and better conditions. But the main purpose in them is to find a way into men's hearts, and take in Jesus; that so men may get the greater as well as the less.