How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:14).
I live in a gated community of 25 homes.
This little neighborhood is surrounded by a high fence and entered through a gate which requires either a remote sensor or a code. Homeowners pay a monthly fee to cover upkeep on the grounds and streets and a few services. We rarely see anyone in this little ghetto other than residents and service people.
Therein lies the metaphor.
At Christmastime, as Bertha and I were placing decorations on the outside of the home, I mentioned that since we live in a cove–a tiny cul-de-sac among five other homes–almost no one will see the wreaths and lights and greenery. “We will see it,” she said. And I agreed. That, I expect, is why most people erect a Christmas tree in the first place. For themselves.
Churches do this, to their shame. They do programs and ministries which no one will ever partake of except themselves. They plan elaborate pageants and oratorios and cantatas and wild game suppers and marriage retreats, and then fail to tell anyone other than the immediate family.
Then they wonder why so many pews went unfilled and the response to their evangelistic invitations was so tiny.