- Religion and Philosophy
Where Is The Love?
"Know Ye this, that in the last days men will be lovers of themselves, covetous...without natural affection..." This subquote of 2Timothy 3:1-3 is the subject of this article: Love, as it applies within the so-called sheepfold, or as it is commonly known: the "Congregation" or church. This includes not only it's members, but also those who stand in the lead such as pastors, deacons, and "stewards"....
Over the past two years in my various travels accross the United States I have personally witnessed many things in the church that just should not be. In one city there was a service going on inside the church, but a full third of the congregation was outside the church...fighting...yes, literally fighting. As the people of the neighborhood looked on either amazed, appalled or amused, the church secretary herself stormed back and forth dropping the "f-bomb" with alarming clarity and proficiency. Outside people were called to the scene to join in. Didn't Jesus say that we are to love one another just as he loved us?
It doesn't end there; just recently, I entered a bible study group at a local church and the pastor was speaking on Matthew 25:41-45 where Jesus tells his disciples that they neglected to clothe him when he was naked, feed him when hungry, and take him in when lost if they do not do these things for the least of his brothers. Now this Pastor went on to give his take on that scripture in this manner:(and I quote) "Here's the kicker! My brethren, who is the brethen? These are the ones who are in the will of God. Now people will come to you asking you for your help and they'll have a story like thier unemployment pay ended or their SSI was denied or is pending, or they just got laid off or lost their job. These are not your brothers!..."
This so-called shepherd went on to explain that anyone going through these type of hardships are not in the will of God. This was said to justify his reluctance and actually refusal to offer or extend genuine aid to the many who seek such from the church. I have spoken about the lack or lessening of charity/love in the church today *(See three part series on the church and charity); but I find that it needs to be touched upon yet again. If Jesus repeatedly instructed as did his apostles that caring for the physical needs of others is mandated and required of us as christians, WHY are we becoming increasingly more creative in finding ways, reasons, and interpretationsof the word of God to reject that command?
Every excuse in the world is being used with even more coming. "They're talking about the spiritual not the natural", "As stewards we are given discernment as to the needs of others and who really needs help", and so-on. But this is all utter and sheer nonsense...Truth Is...
For one, if they were so endowed with 'discernment', then why is it that the man mentioned in my previous article: The Church and Charity - the Lack Thereof, was repeatedly denied aid from the several churches as they deemed his need(s) not to be real? *This is a tragic incident, and in fact I want to take time to admonish those who regularly read Truth Is as although I have never once solicited financial support for Truth Is Ministries, I did suggest that my readers come forward and offer assistance to the gentleman in question here and to this very date NOT ONE PERSON has offered even the merest bit of charitable aid to him. Noone since has asked his outcome, Noone even inquired as to what they could do to be of assistance! That dissapoints me deeply. But back to the subject...
The Church is the last place many people have to turn to when in need after they've been rejected or recieved insufficient assistance from the government, social, and so-called church-based agencies who have actually become even more stringent than the government with their requirements for receipt of the little aid they do provide.
What we need to look at is the fact that we ARE living in the time of the Last days, the time of Christ's coming. Everything he spoke of at Matthews 24:14 has either been or is in the process of being fulfilled as we speak. Read it yourself and then consider that just this past Sunday I had a preacher just one hour after preaching his sermon tell me that we are NOT in the last days! These are the type of things being said and promoted by men who are entrusted with the teaching and nurturing of Christ's sheep and it is appalling as well as disgusting! Matthews 24:15 says that "When you see the disgusting thing as some translations put it; or the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place it would be time to flee...It would seem that prosperity preachers, lying preachers, politically involved preachers, preachers sexually involved with congregation members, and preachers who encourage members to do the opposite of what the bible says to do*(see above Matt 5:41-45), as well as preachers that manipulate the meaning of scripture to justify their wrongful stance and practices, preachers who teach and mislead with untruths(the list goes on), these are nothing more than modern day Pharisees, or as Jesus called them "white -washed graves full of dead men's bones", and "Offsprings of vipers and serpents"...
1Peter 5:2;3 tells them to "Shepherd the flock eargerly and wilingly, not under constraint nor Lording it over them for gain"; it is not hard to think of so many pastors, and preachers(deacons too!) who do exactly what these scriptures say don't do. Jesus told the rich man: "sell all that you have that is valuable to you and give to those in need, then follow after me..."; it goes on to say that these words greatly saddened that rich man. Now where does this say that Jesus told him to give to the poor spiritual things? It doesn't, because this man was seeking spiritual things himself supposedly. Thus the argument that Jesus wasn't speaking about natural but rather spiritual food, clothing, and shelter crumbles before the Word of God.
It angers and frustrates me that so many ministers and their deacons(henchmen basically), manipulate scripture and attach "mysterious interpretation" when it comes to matters they don't want to comply with fully and literally even though clearly stated and instructed by scriptures and usually out of Jesus' own mouth. This is more often than not done when the subject involves money. Think about it. Watch the FULL development of circumstances when someone comes to your church seeking assistance. Stay there after service, check back on the people, follow-up on it and see what was done and how it was done.Place yourself in th person's shoes and ask yourself how you'd feel receiving/not receiving the same in your time of great need.
Then there's the way that we treat others in the congregation: gossiping, social rejection, do you take time to share socially with ALL members of the congregation or do you have preferences and cliques? You all want to end up in the same place don't you? How can you tell God you want to go to the same place when you don't want to do anything together with them now while they're right there with you?!!! I have observed in many churches time and again that those who contribute the most toward tithes are given preferrential treatment and positions within.Jesus counseled against favoritism and James spoke to it further at James chapter 2(read it). But I have actually witnessed personally that a pastor abided the unscrupulous business practices and behaviors of a certain brother who had prominence in services, etc although the pastor was welll aware that the majority of the man's victims were actually members of that very same congregation including new members! In return, this "brother" who was a contractor that actually fleeced a 93 yr oold church mother, took the pastor and his wife on a cruise, bought him $1600 ostrich and alligator boots and provided other expensive gifts. The pastor actually told me:" I wouldn't work for him myself, I know how he is..."! Instead of requiring this man refrain from taking a position of prominence during services, and perhaps trying to nurture him towards a more mature christian walk, this particular pastor allowed a predator of sorts to freely vicitmize several of the sheep he is charged to oversee while basically looking the other way.
Christian love in truth is exercising it by reaching-out to others in the congregation; inviting them out to an activity between families or over to dinner. I am speaking of not your close knit circle, but someone else within the congregation, perhaps the family that comes late all the time and sits in the back. Or taking an elderly member to dinner or going over to do chores that may be difficult for them, sending your children to do so or simply to watch television with them or talk. Again, not just the ones you are familiar with but the more so those whom you are not acquainted. They are your brothers and sisters.
How do you treat others outside of the congregation? Does your behavior reflect the same as it does on Sunday and Wednesday? Is there road rage? Impatience with others not able to move as quickly as you on the sidewalk or in a store? Are you courteous even when others are not? Does your light shine?!!! Where is the Love?
Go back to 2 Timothy chapter three: look at verse five:"Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof...and, (verse seven) "Ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...", this probably applies to the pastor who stated that those going through hardships and need help are not your brothers in Christ; and here it says :"...from these turn ye away...". Yes, get away from them for your own spiritual sake as well as salvation. If only we would actually take time to prayerfully study God's word on our own instead of waiting to hear it as interpreted by "pastor"!
Just because he's in the pulpit doesn't mean he's rightfully there or even of Christ. As one preacher put it a couple weks ago:" Not everyone in the pulpit is saved!" Is your pastor readily and easily assessable to you and others, even visitors? Or is it like I witnessed in Florida one preacher(calling himself "Bishop"), had an entourage of bodyguards complete with earpieces, etc like they were the Secret Service or and he was the president. They held court on the side of the church after services and people wanting an 'audience' with "bishop" were instructed to stand outside a wrought iron gate and wait. Eventually they all were turned-over to one of his sub-pastors as he was whisked away in a chauffer-driven Hummer as the entourage of bodyguards ran alongside the vehicle until it picked-up too much speed for them to keep up! What?!!! Who exactly does this MAN think that he is? Out of love, Jesus made himself available to all who approached and when his disciples tried to prevent this he admonished them to allow it. How dare we think ourselves above and beyond or more than our lord Jesus?!
The state of today's church is shockingly a disaster! There is so much jockeying for position(s) and status, fashion displays, controversy, and focus on money and entertainment that there's very little given to the actual taking in and application of the word its'elf. Sure, you hear the sermon(s) and of course somebody always "gets the holy ghost"; but please, c'mon now, let's talk about what Jesus loves. Jesus loves humankind and wants to see them suffer less and gain not only the blessing of everlasting life, but also receive peace of mind and relief to some degree even now in present times.
The first step to repairing things is to seek after knowledge. Proverbs 8:10 tells us that knowledge is more precious than gold! Now ask yourself, if you heard about there being gold somewhere free for the taking, would you wait for pastor to tell you how to get it or would you get on your bike, skates, or scooter and go for it?! The same should appply with the knowledge of God. The bible says to study to show thyself approved. It also tells you that all scripture is God-inspired and can make you complete. You/we need to be going after that knowledge as the most valuable and precious thing in existance, which it truly is indeed. The teaching at church should only back up and verify what you already have read and begun applying, and help with doing that. It (self study) also helps you prevent being led stray or misled by half truths and untruths. I have seen preachers quote scriptures that don't exist. One case a pastor quoted Matthew 6:33,34 where it talks about seeking first the kingdom and all things will be added unto you. But he took it further by "quoting" verses 35 and 36 (which simply do not exist) and stated they say that means you have to "give-give-give..."(I actually heard him say this!)
Secondly self study helps you SEE yourself what is said and allows you to use your God-given common sense when reading it without there being someone there trying to put their 'twist' on it. Prayerfully studying God's word will gain you his favor and revelation(s) as to the truest nature of that word as it applies to you. Think about that. You'd be studying with God, the ultimate teacher! It also will allow you to break free from the peer pressure of succumbing to and submitting yourself to that "old time religion" where there's a lot of shoutin' and praisin' but very little structured learnin' and understandin'. We need to truly stop stompin a while and sit down and actually STUDY as one and corporately what God's word really says without reinventing it with multiple interprtations to fit whatever someone is trying to convince you of or to do. God's word is simply stated and NOT a super-duper mystery requiring the most learned and sanctified mind to interpret. It is free and simple for anyone to read and see that earnestly seek it as gold. You don't have to be a pastor, elder or senior church member in order to understand what God's word really says. Study in all earnestness and prayer and see what happens!
Love? Where is it? Why are we so angry? Why do we lose patience with the very world we call ourselves trying to save? Why aren't we prayerfully asking God for the patience to deal with the madness that prevails in the people we must interact with as christians in order to present God's love to them? This isnstead of obtaining the very same gruff, rough and rude attitude matching theirs. That is NOT what we are suppose to be presenting as ambassaders of Christ! We can't afford to lose patience with them, we can't afford to assume their behaviors and attitudes, our lives are at stake along with theirs as we stand judged by how we treat others as well as teach them and the example(s) that we present. The world truly is going crazy, what benefit are we to God, a God of order, if we're going crazy along with the world?
Again, this boils down to much more prayer. I always stress this and must again do so in that prayer is the strongest weapon, best tool, and most wonderful conduit available to us as it brings us into commune and the presence of God. Where there is light, darkness ceases!
Before closing I'll restate that we MUST have compassion for others, escpecially now in these perilous times when everyone sooner or later will feel the pinch. Yes YOU wil too! The time is coming and faster and sooner than you think where you could see a million dollars sitting on the sidewalk and not even take the time to go over and kick it as it will be worhtless. Anyone who denies this is denying the word of God, not mine...Truth Is... Soon , man's valued things will be rendered valueless and what shall those who hard and selfishly hold back that which that are capable/able to give to help others, do then? Strange turn of events indeed, as the ones in dire need now will be much more capable of coping with it than those who refuse to help or give the smallest amount of help thaey possibly can will.
No, I do not promote giving away all that you have, but aren't we the ones always telling those needy people "God's going to take care of you 'cause you're one of his..." Well...same thing applies to you!!!!Stop being closed-fisted and stingy with others who truly need it and STOP trying to judge who needs and doesn't, that's God's job and He can do it WAY better than you(or me!)Just do your part, act out of love...
...Note: Noone should tell you what to do as for helping someone, it is your personal act out of your own heart and NO man should dictate that as it is between you and God and part of your relationship with him as far as what He has instilled in you. You don't neeed pastor or deacon's approval or permission to help someone if the spirit thus moves you to do so. Often only a portion of those church collections actually go to the person we are told they are intended for. I have actually seen upward 0f $900 taken up in a benevolence offering and the person in need wasn't given one red cent of it!!! Noone should control what you give to help an individual as it is from your heart. Pray on it and see what God tells you!
But as the scriptures say, judgement will begin within the congregation; the seperation of sheep from goats are those within the congregation. Something for the so-called saved and sanctified crowd to ponder over.
See you in part two!