"THE KING’S BUSINESS"
"We pray you…be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5.20)
INTRO.: A song which exhorts us to encourage others to be reconciled to God is "The King’s Business" (#554 in Hymns for Worship, #175 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Elijah Taylor Cassel, who was born somewhere in Indiana on Nov. 27, 1849. During his early childhood, his family moved by oxcart to Nebraska. After completing his medical education, he practiced medicine at Hastings, NE, where he was a member of the Baptist Church and well-respected for his musical ability. While living there, he married a talented musician. This hymn was produced in 1902 while the Cassels were living at Hastings. The tune (Cassel) was composed by Cassel’s wife, Flora Hamilton Cassel (1852-1911).
A native of Otterville, IL, Flora spent most of her childhood in Whitehall, IL, where her father was a Baptist minister. After living with an aunt in Brooklyn, NY, where she studied voice, she graduated from Maplewood Institute in Pittsfield, MA, and became head of the music department at Shurtleff College in Upper Alton, IL. The song was first published later in 1902 in International Praise, compiled and edited at Chicago, IL, by Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921). About 1910, after he was past sixty years of age, Mr. Cassel abandoned his medical practice and decided to become a Baptist minister. From 1911 to 1917, he served the Bethel Baptist Church in Denver, CO.
Shortly after the Cassels’ move to Denver, Mrs. Cassel drove a buggy to the post office to pick up the mail. Returning to the buggy, she untied the team and stepped on the running board. Something spooked the horses, and, with her long skirts wrapped around the buggy step, Mrs. Cassel was dragged to her untimely and tragic buggy death. Mr. Cassel eventually remarried and then became minister with the First Baptist Church in Ft. Morgan, CO, from 1919 to 1921. In 1922, he moved to South Gate, CA, where he was a member of the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park, CA, and remained there until his death on July 3, 1930. His second wife, Anna Mae Cassel, died in 1949.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
This song tells us how to go about encouraging others to be reconciled to God.
I. Stanza one says that we need to remember that we are but strangers here
"I am a stranger here, within a foreign land;
My home is far away upon a golden strand;
Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea,
I’m here on business for my King."
A. A stranger is one who is a citizen of one country but lives in another: Heb. 11.13-16
B. As Christians, our home is not here on earth but far away in heaven: Phil. 3.20-21
C. Our function as citizens of heaven living as strangers on earth is to be messengers of the King. Some songbooks change the line, "Ambassador to be…" to "A messenger to be…." We are not ambassadors in the same sense that the apostles were, but one definition for ambassador is simply a messenger with a mission, and as Christians we are to be messengers of Jesus Christ with the mission of spreading His word: Acts 8.4. But we will never be effective as messengers for the King unless we recognize that we are strangers and pilgrims on earth.
II. Stanza two says that we need to remember that God has commanded all men everywhere to repent
"This is the King’s command: that all men, everywhere,
Repent and turn away from sin’s seductive snare;
That all who will obey, with Him shall live for aye,
And that’s my business for my King."
A. God has certain commandments that must be obeyed in order for people to be pleasing to Him: Jn. 14.15, 1 Jn. 5.3
B. One of those commandments is that all men everywhere repent: Acts 17.30-31
C. Therefore, we must obey this command to turn away from sin’s seductive snare in order to be saved: Heb. 5.8-9. If we hope to
accomplish the mission of our King as we live on earth, we must tell people everywhere that they must repent of the sin that causes them to be condemned before Him.
III. Stanza 3 says that we need to remember that we have a home with eternal life awaiting us
"My home is brighter fair than Sharon’s rosy plain,
Eternal life and joy throughout its vast domain;
My Sovereign bids me tell how mortals there may dwell,
And that’s my business for my King."
A. God has a home prepared for His people: Mt. 25.31-34
B. The greatest blessing that we will receive there is eternal life: Mt. 25.41, 1 Jn. 2.25
C. And it is so wonderful that we need to be telling other mortals how they too may dwell there: 1 Pet. 1.3-5, 2 Pet. 1.8-11. Our mission to tell others how to receive a home in heaven should be motivated by our own desire to go there and dwell forever with our King.
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the basic theme of the message that God has given to us.
"This is the message that I bring,
A message angels fain would sing:
‘Oh, be ye reconciled,’ thus saith my Lord and King,
‘Oh, be ye reconciled to God.’"
The aim of the song is to point to each of these facts as motivation for us to bring the message of salvation to mankind. Because we are but strangers and pilgrims on earth, we serve as messengers of God. Because He has commanded all men everywhere to repent, we need to be letting people know that only if they obey His will can they hope to live with Him eternally. And because our eternal home is bright and fair, He wants us to tell others how they can go there too. So this is how we are to go about "The King’s Business."