I had planned on doing something different this week. I had wanted to do a year in review and a look ahead for various COG organizations. I was hoping to make it humorous. I was hoping to make it light-hearted.
Very little of it came out actually humorous. It was actually quite sad when I stepped back and looked at it.
It wasn’t long ago that I heard a sermon about sincerity. It really applies. Even though the main point was about manmade celebrations that are supposed to honor God, there also is a personal consideration for a Christian to be sincere.
Supposedly (because some disagree with this etymology), sincere comes from the Latin sine cera, or “without wax”. Instead of busting up statues that had defects in them, like they were supposed to do, some dishonest artisans would cover up the defects with wax. This covering of flaws was often good enough to deceive the buyer, at least until the statue sat in the hot sun.
We have COG organizations like that. They look godly to the casual observer, but examining some of them closely reveals some rather significant defects. We see:
Organizations that expect 3rd tithe (for an assistance fund), but whenever a real need comes up, it seems there is no money. However, those same organizations can seem to afford opulent ministerial homes, artwork of questionable value and other extravagant expenses.
Pastors that keep lavishing titles upon themselves. I don’t mean “elder” or “minister”, but “apostle”, “prophet”, “one of the Two Witnesses” and even sillier titles that make little sense. They puff up their egos to the point you think they may explode.
Church leadership in one organization looking down their nose at another organization because of unbiblical notions like church government and makeup. Their traditions of men are clung to in exactly the same manner in which the Pharisees clung to theirs.
Church organizations that speak a lot about evangelism but in practice prove they have no clue. Instead of properly equipping the saints to be suitable witnesses, they point to booklets, magazines and websites. They are busy “doing the work”, but of what quality is the work?
Church organizations that are so afraid to misuse one dime that they are willing to offend members and nonmembers alike. You begin to wonder if they are serving God or mammon.
Church leadership wound so tight that they take all the joy out of life and worship.
Disfellowshipping for the huge sin of thinking on your own.
Shunning family members for the crime of not belonging to their particular lunatic organization.
So, are we measuring up to the standard Jesus set? Do our actions, speech and attitudes attract others because they see the love we have for one another? Do we truly love God and others enough to let them know where we stand, or do we hide our faith and feelings under a bushel basket? Do we behave in a manner that will attract people to our way of life, or do we repel people away from our particular dysfunctional group?
John, there is hope for the COG’s if we have more people like yourself, who can see and admit the errors of the organisations, without losing the truth of the Bible.
More power to you.
This post inspired me to think back over some of the amazing quotes I heard COG ministers say in 2009. In my own congregation I heard:
1. The "solution to the Palestinian problem" is for all Palestinians to be destroyed, based on Deuteronomy 7. "They are vile," the Pastor declared.
2. If the U.S. economy makes a full recovery, it's because Satanic forces are behind it. (This minister is adamantly against the notion of spending your way out of recession, by driving the U.S. deeper into national debt.)
3. Dozens of Muslim terror camps are training people in my state. This was stated at the end of a sermon on happiness.
4. The TV game show "Wipeout" is wrong, because it shows people going to desperate lengths to win money.
5. Doctors "don't build your faith; doctors destroy your faith." Which makes me wonder why a "beloved physician" named Luke was allowed to write one of the Gospels.
6. It's silly to have days of service, such as some have suggested doing on September 11. The reason: "We're at war."
Thank you for your kind responses.
@Richard: I just had to login this morning and let you know that I read your comment earlier on my phone, and I immediately started saying a prayer for you and your congregation. Most of them seem to have a severe lack of compassion behind them, and let's just leave it at that. #6 touches upon something I've begun to blog more and more about, and I aim to take to new heights this year.
Compassion comes from love. I believe many members have love, but they are either afraid to show it, or they are encouraged to suppress it by men set in authority that should know better. Unfortunately, the bad apples seem to get all the attention both in and out of the COG.
The prayers are much appreciated!
The pastor probably would say I lifted his quotes out of otherwise sound messages. Maybe so — but when these remarks are embedded into the messages (a few of them occuring during "announcements," when the pastor makes sure the audio desk isn't recording), they sure do get my attention.
In fact, I think I've found evidence comment #3 was edited out of a sermon which was posted online. I hope to track that down in coming days.
I need to update quote #3. I know the pastor said it — but after reviewing a recording of the happiness sermon, it was NOT at the end. Perhaps it was mentioned during announcements that day. My sincere apologies for the misquote.
(Admittedly I didn't write it down, and simply remembered it.)