There once was a Pony Club that enriched the lives of its members for many years. But as time went on fewer and fewer people joined. The Pony Club no longer attracted as many new members because it demanded hard work, determination and perseverance. All the members that had joined in the past were all changed by the Pony Club – for the better. The current leaders however were more interested in numerical growth and ‘attracting’ new comers so they changed the Pony Club rather than letting the Pony Club change its members.
This story like all parables is based on a true story and contains a story about Truth:
Among a certain cognoscenti it is well known that the most fun a child can have is provided by one humble yet well respected establishment. It is not expensive and it is not exclusive. It embraces hard work, long days, grit and determination and yet it is what many teenagers spend their school days dreaming of.
While incomprehensible to non-members, there is an unspoken understanding among its members, a kind of secret society of those in the know, that the most enjoyment a child can ever have is by being a member of The Pony Club. The 87-year-old institution announced this week it intends to shed its stuffy image.
The comedic, Thelwellesque reputation forged by indomitable district commissioners dressed in tweed jackets and ties, barking orders at a rag tag army of dishevelled children on hairy ponies is no longer desirable. The new chief executive, Pip Kirkby, feels that in order to thrive the club must adapt to the 21st century and embrace a more modern and liberal stance.
Truth is timeless and universal. Truth isn’t about numbers or members. Truth is its own attraction. People will be drawn to it or not depending on their inclination. Truth doesn’t need to be liberal, conservative or modern.
The Bible tells us that God’s call is never about numbers and always about commitment. Time and time again Scripture describes God’s desire for quality and not quantity. It’s not about numbers it’s about God; “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, My own strength has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2) Yet the world thinks otherwise. ‘Soulishness’ demands numbers and large memberships. That’s the way of the world.
Jesus established His church on the Truth. He told it simply, without compromise and with authority. He didn’t sugar the Gospel with easy entrance requirements; “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) Nor did He go easy on His disciples in the hopes that they would naturally want to be better people; “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) He had His eye on eternity not modernity.
But then again, Jesus was establishing His Church not a Pony Club!