In my previous article “UCG General Conference of Elders Sabbath Webcast”, I wrote, Melvin Rhodes’ “assertion that much of the work in recent decades has been carried on by a centralized funded effort is not without merit. As far as what would occur if the US suffered such a calamity that US members could no longer fund the work is one point I’d like to take an entire article to elaborate upon.” And so, I’d like to take a couple of moments to do just that.
Several things dawned on me this morning. Most of all, though, the thought that God often wants us to do things that are not obvious to us really seems to be on my mind this morning. Did Abram really know he was going to wander around the rest of his life? Jacob prayed for God’s protection, but he did say, “If God will be with me” (Ge 28:20). I also have to wonder if he knew just how long he would be gone. The point is that we are often led in a different direction than we think God is going to take us.
Many of our modern conveniences have made life simpler in some respects. We in the US tend to value “efficiency”. I had to wonder about that. There used to be a time when what was valued was hard work. Small companies still do value hard work, but some of the larger ones seem to have lost that as a core virtue. Now, I don’t pretend to profess that one is more valuable than the other, as to survive these days you need a mixture of both. However, it is an interesting change in the mores of the culture.
It is also interesting how big becomes big because of efficiency. More efficiency leads to bigger. Bigger can lead to more efficiency. And so on.
Is efficiency what God is looking for?
A lot of time what you hear is that a larger church organization can do more. There’s more of an efficient pooling of resources, at least in theory. There’s less duplication of effort. Bigger means more of an ability to travel, more money to spend on booklets, more ministers that can be hired, etc. Have we stopped to ask if that is what God wants?
Now, I don’t want to come off as anti-church or even anti-corporate church, but you have to admit that God doesn’t always look for efficiency. I’m not even sure it is anywhere in His top 5 priorities.
This morning I was listening to an old sermon by Joel Meeker called “People of Every Language Will Serve Him”. Parts of it are very interesting. One point he makes is that in one sense, the world was united after the Flood. It is heavily implied in Ge 10:32 that the sons of Noah understood that the earth was to be divided after the Flood (cf. Dt 32:8).
God wanted them to disperse physically. Certainly, God would have preferred that mankind would be spiritually united, but He wanted them to physically scatter and populate the earth. Instead, they created an empire under Nimrod. They were physically united but were spiritually in conflict. They were 180 degrees from God’s intended purpose.
That sermon reminded me of the early Church. They physically gathered at Jerusalem. They believed that the end times were upon them, and so they preached and prepared.
Did they preach the Gospel? Yes. Did they add believers? Yes (Ac 5:14; 6:1; et al).
So, here they were, one large Church growing larger, preaching the Gospel, but were they doing God’s will? What was God’s will? The efficiency of a large organization? No! He scattered them!
However, do note that while they were physically scattered, they were still spiritually united. They were on the same mission, working from the same sheet of music and preaching the Gospel everywhere.
It is not a sin to want to band together and pool resources. It is not a sin to want to organize and reach as many as possible. However, let’s check with God and see what He wants.
So, back to Rhodes’ sermon, what would happen if the US is no longer able to fund the work? Well, I think we know that sooner or later that is what is going to happen. There will be few capable men and women left behind to spread the word due to various problems.
The men and women of God in the Bible do not strike me as specialists. That doesn’t mean that one person does it all, but they are well-rounded. Most of them seem to be able to do much. I don’t see where only ordained men are allowed to spread the Good News. I do not see where one centralized Church is required to get out the Gospel.
Sadly, I don’t see most COG organizations equipping the saints for being able to carry on the work. I see so many working up a frenzy about making it into some place of safety, but what if you are called to do something else? What if the ones left behind are planted there to spread the Good News and give their lives in its preaching?
Could you do it?
Perhaps it will be the Tribulation that will cause God’s people to finally not think of physical unity but spiritual unity, just as in the days of the 1st century Church.