Fiddling While the Church Burns–Some Fun With a Tall Tale

May 15, 2013 — 2 Comments

Second Mile Logo without nameListening to our partisan politicians in Washington reminds me of the old County Line Union Church back home, where the Baptists and the Methodists shared the same building. The Baptist preacher preached on the first and third Sundays and the Methodist preacher preached on the second and fourth. 

All the folks got along together most of the time. They were neighbors-friends. And besides, it was only religion, nothing to get excited about. The Baptists didn’t really mind listening to the Methodist preacher, and the Methodists didn’t mind the Baptist preacher as long as he was careful not to get too loud. There aren’t many shouting Methodists any more. 

Everything went just fine until the day the church caught fire. Now, I don’t mean spiritually.  

They were having their annual joint August Revival. The thinking was the hot Summer heat in the unairconditioned building was always a bit suggestive of Hell and just might prompt sinners to make a decision for Christ. The visiting evangelist was in the middle of his fire and brimstone sermon when everyone seemed to be hotter and hotter. Folks had never heard such a sermon before that could make it all seem so real. 

It was some of the young boys on the back row that first noticed the smoke seeping through the cracks in the ceiling. “Fire!” they yelled, as they pointed up. 

The evangelist was caught completely off guard. He just stood speechless. It was Brother Barnes, the Chairman of the Baptist deacons, that first spoke up. “Preacher,” he spoke in his most authoritative voice, “I move that we call the fire department and get this here fire put out before our church burns down.” 

Brother Leon, the Methodist Lay Leader, then quickly pulled himself up on his cane. “Now Brother Barnes, you know I live in Leake County, and you live in Neshoba County. And the church is here on the County line. Which fire department do you reckon on calling?” 

As everyone filed out of the building, the debate raged on. The fire department was never called, and the church building was totally destroyed.  

The story reminds me of politicians in Washington. But come to think of it, maybe it should remind me that Old County Line Union Church is not the only church that has made this kind of mistake. It’s easy for any organization to be too busy debating issues, taking sides, fiddling while Rome burns.  

Let’s not lose focus of what’s important. Let’s keep our minds and hearts on Jesus and our eyes on our mission. For the church that’s making disciples. 

QUESTION: Do you know what your personal life mission is? Are you staying focused on your God-given mission? Please respond in the Comments section below.

Dr. Gary Thompson


I am a retired United Methodist pastor. I write adult curriculum for the United Methodist Church and have been doing so for over 10 years. My passion is helping the Christian Church more effectively fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and to help individuals identify and fulfill their God-given personal mission.

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  • Mark Luker

    Good words Pastor….I believe since God has redeemed and restored me, that my mission is to serve him….and I pray he will give me ears to hear! God bless you!

  • Montecristo

    I know my calling in life, My problem is that I get, easily, distracted from time to time.