What is the one thing the Church of God can do to become more Christ-like this year? What is the one thing you can do to become more Christ-like this year? Is there really a difference between these two things?
The OT is full of punishment upon nations, especially Israel and Judah, for collectively not following God’s will. However, you also see God working with individuals throughout both the OT and the NT, calling them out to be different and to let their light shine.
Are the rules really any different? At its core, no. There are specific rules for government and for church, but most of those are extensions of other rules or are the result of the moral code. For example, capital punishment by the state is prescribed for murder. It requires judges who decide if it is murder or manslaughter, and there must be witnesses. However, that is a consequence of “Thou shalt not kill”, or “You shall not murder”, which applies to individuals and the state alike.
So, if an individual is not supposed to lie, then a church organization should not lie. If an individual is not supposed to be given over to idolatry, then a church organization should not idolize a man – live or dead. If an individual is not supposed to steal, then a church organization should not take funds for one stated purpose and use it for another. If an individual is not supposed to kill, then a church organization should not cause someone to stumble into the Lake of Fire.
Let me repeat that: If an individual is not supposed to kill, then a church organization should not cause someone to stumble into the Lake of Fire.
What Law am I quoting from? The Ten Commandments, of course. It is often said that the Ten Commandments are an expansion of the Two Greatest Commandments: Love of God and love of neighbor. All else flows from love.
I think we often get it backwards. True, if we love God and man, then we will keep the Law. However, keeping the Law in the letter is what the Pharisees did. No, we must keep them in spirit and in truth.
How often do church organizations preach to their members about love? How often do those same church organizations live up to the standard of love? How often do they set the example?
Jesus said others would know if you were His followers if you loved each other. However, consider that as a minimum requirement!
43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Consider that if church organizations and the people in them kept the law of love, that:
Organizational influence would take place where it is needed, and not where it is not.
People would have the freedom that real love provides. Just as a smothering parent stunts the growth of her children, the controlling “I know better” attitude of a church can stunt the spiritual growth of its members.
Widows in the Church would be taken care of.
Members who are single parents would not be entirely alone.
Members in nursing homes would rarely feel lonely.
It would be rare for a member to lose their home even in this economy.
It would be unusual to shun anybody rather than only “saluting” people in your own particular little group.
Most people would understand why we do things the way we do because we would love them enough to want to share our way of life with them without beating them over the head.
School teachers and bosses would only rarely think we were arrogant in not participating in certain events.
We would be known in nursing homes, homeless shelters, food lines, etc.
We would finally realize it is not us vs them, but it is God vs Satan.
So, my request and hope is that the Churches of God and their members all start practicing love more than they ever have before.