I rarely post much from COGWA (Church of God a Worldwide Association) here because perusing their website is one of the most mind-numbingly boring things one could imagine. Given that COGWA is nothing more than a dissident carbon copy of United Church of God, they have never set out to reimagine their church or the things they preach into a new and relevant model for the world today.
So thanks to a reader here we have this little tidbit, on how things have NOT changed in the church, to examine.
Starts around 35:29:
A second category we'll quickly go to it show honor to the Brethren show honor to the Brethren. We saw in previous scriptures how especially there in first Thessalonians how the brethren were just doing a fine job of honoring each other of caring for each other. Are there ways we can improve there? Let's look at Romans chapter 12 in verse 10. Romans chapter 10 12 in verse 10 we'll read verses 10 and 11
Now the New King James starts out by saying “be kindly affectionate to one another” “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” I like to read that to you in the new American Standard translation. It says this, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love kindly affectionate” I don't know I often wondered what is why the emphasis? We could say be kind to one another be affectionate to one another but apparently Paul said there's a “kindly affectionate”. I'm not sure there can be an unkindly affectionate. But he's emphasizing that be really affectionate... be and that's why I think the new American Standard says “be devoted to”.
So one of the trends that we've always been concerned about in the church is our lives getting so busy with other stuff that no longer does our life revolve around the church. Now the gray heads among us remember the days when everything in your life revolved around the church. Did it not? Every week revolved around the Sabbath and the Sabbath was the most important thing and everything went leading up to the Sabbath. And you got to the Sabbath and you went to Sabbath services and then you ate together with the Brethren. Then you went to spokesman club for a couple hours then the next day you got up and drove halfway to Timbuktu to do some YOU activity because all your kids were involved first with basketball and then with track and then with... you go on and on. Volleyball and okay what just it wasn't one basketball team it was an A team and a B team and a C team. And was there ever a weekend we didn't travel? Caring for those things?
My wife got out to our first assignment and oh you're the cheerleading coach, oh really? So we spent how many fundraisers raising money to do what? To buy cheerleading outfits for our girls. Because they couldn't do cheerleading in school. Now why we thought cheerleading was that cat's meow I'm not sure but we did at the time. And that's not to say it's a bad thing but anyway. Won't get off on that.
But everything revolved around the church. And so we had what? We had food co-ops. You have any here? Food co-ops were where you could get stone ground whole wheat. Not just not as regular whole wheat. Now why stone ground is better than metal ground I don't quite recall. But everything... we had Church cookbooks right? Some of you still got those right? Church cookbooks that you baked stuffed you made stuff out of the church cookbook.
So everything in life revolved around the truth. And troubling at times is to see instead of the truth in the church being the hub of the wheel upon which everything else revolves… The concern is and that maybe is what being talked a little bit about here when he says be be devoted to one another. That the church cycles in instead of being the hub, it's kind of out here on the rim somewhere. And it cycles into our life once a week as it comes around but other than that we may not think of it much. Maybe that's what Paul was concerned about here? When he tells the Brethren to be devoted to one another and I really would like to help out so-and-so but man I got so much going on here. I don't have time to serve. I don't have time to take care of others.
That's a sad thing there was a time we had a woman back 30 years ago in Massachusetts a woman who's stricken with cancer sad situation but we were able to do such a thing that I had 24-hour a day care for this woman by church members. Now again it's a different culture most of the women didn't work outside the home and I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, it's just the way it was.
But everything revolved around the church and around the Brethren. So Paul may be lamenting a little bit to say “be sure were devoted to one another” and preferring and it says to “give preference” Continuing here Romans 12 verse 10. “Be kindly affectionate be devoted to one of the brother love” and then it says “in honor giving preference to one another”. In honor giving preference to you, putting others first, you first attitude. Verse 11 “not lagging behind in diligence fervent in spirit serving the Lord” You see when we serve others were serving God Himself, serving Christ. With that turn over to Matthew chapter 25. Matthew 25, in verse 37, you're very familiar with this section of Scripture without a doubt. Because every time we read it it kind of sticks us a little bit. Kind of prods our conscience, or pricks our conscience. Proverbs 25 verse 37, remember the scene here there's the the picture of who will be in the kingdom. And what did they do in order to be able to be brought into God's kingdom?
And so there's this explanation, this kind of proverbial explanation, of what these people did to be considered worthy of being brought into God's kingdom. Christ said, you know to the righteous, come on. In verse 37 “the righteous will answer him saying Lord did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and gave you drink?”, remember what Christ said? The reason I'm having you all in is because when I was sick you took care of me. When I was down and out you watched over me, thirsty you gave me drink. And they're saying, “why we didn't do that”, verse 38. “When did we see you a stranger and take you in or naked and clothe you? or when when did we see you sick or in prison and come to you? and the king will answer and say to them assuredly I say to you and as much as you did this to”... who? “one of the least of these my brothers”. Not to the general world we can't care for the whole world. That's not wrong to do that kind of kind of thing for the world. But I guess our our thought really would be is that once everyone in the church is taken care of, great, let's go help others. But until that time let's make sure the Brethren are cared for. “...in as much as you did this, these things - one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.”
This continual looking back on the "glory days" of the church from decades past is a denial of how sick the church was at its core. It is one thing for members to care for one another with godly works so that no one is uncared for, but letting the church tell you that you need to reorient your life so that the church is central to everything you do is bordering once again on cult speak.So we're to show honor to the Brethren by caring for them by fellowshipping with them by doing all we can to help. By encouraging them so we ask how might we show honor to the Brotherhood of believers? Well we can all meditate on that and maybe come up with some good suggestions even for the seminar this afternoon.
No Church of God member needs to let any of their organizations control their lives with one activity after another, till they are exhausted and compliant when they are preached to on Saturdays. Look at how it wrecked thousands of lives over the decades in the WCG and then on into the hundreds of splinter groups. The typical church member's life is between them and God first and not between them and the church first.