Let Us Please God
Novato, California 94947
Occasionally religious people in the denominational world realize significant truths which we also, who are members of the L o r d 's church, need to comprehend. We should remember that the church of the Lord is perfect on the Divine side, but on the human side many imperfections and shortcomings manifest themselves. Oftentimes brethren try tactics that the denomination al world has long cast aside. Appealing to human reason has no place in the church of our Lord.
For a specific example of what I refer to I quote an article in a recent issue of a sectarian publication called "The Watchtower." In this brief article we found a few truths that I believe we could profit from. The majority of content in "The Watchtower" is erroneous, but this brief article contained a few relevant truths. The title of the article is "Church Failure as Seen by Her Leaders." Under the section, "Too Concerned Over Responsibility," I quote:
"The New York Clergyman Harold A. Bosley was reported by the Miami Herald of July 19, 1962, as saying: "This nation's churches have become so fearful of saying the wrong thing that they simply say nothing. We are so respectable we are afraid of our own shadow.... American churches used to be the moral custodians of the community and would cross swords with any body, but today they have timidly forsaken that role." Along this same line Cynthia Clark Wedel, a vice-president of the National Council of Churches, said, as reported by the Houston Post of October 1, 1961: "Too many churches reflect an image compounded almost entirely of sweetness and light. We are afraid that if the church becomes involved in anything controversial, it will cease to be popular--people might leave or not want to come in."
(THE WATCHTOWER, December 1, 1963, p. 727)
The idea is presented that churches have become so "concerned over respectability" that they are afraid of their own shadows. This may be true of the denominational world, but could it also be true among us? Are we afraid to speak out firmly, plainly, and uncompromisingly--if it means the losing of our "status" or "respectability" or impression on the world? Will we be faithful to the Truth even if it means losing our popularity among other men? May we be courageous and imitate the wonderful example of Stephen in condemning wickedness: "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye." The Lord help us to never smooth over and sugar-coat Gospel (?) messages in order to please the people and win popularity. Peter and John would not do such things. But today some well-meaning brethren are afraid to become involved in anything "controversial" lest they lose their popularity or make a few enemies. As the water always takes the shape of the vessel, so they always conform and change to suit the situation at hand. It is a shame that some who know better will compromise the truth in order to advance themselves. Their image is "sweetness and light" and nothing controversial at all. Popularity is their concern instead of Biblical soundness. But such was never the case with the Apostle Paul. It would have been so easy for Paul to "tone down and sweeten" his message in order to gain more friends and save his neck--but he never did such. Rather at all times he uncompromisingly preached the sound Gospel, condemning sinners and encouraging the faithful with Christian love.
Truly it is disgrace to the Word of God (the sharp two-edged sword, Hebrews 4:12) to see someone use it simply as a butter spreader. These individuals will no longer "cross swords" with those in disagreement (Jude 3) but timidly forsake such roles. They claim "arguing and love" are incompatible. But Paul and Peter never thought so. Apollos did not either (Acts 18:28). Pleasing God all the time is not their goal, but rather making an impression on society and becoming exalted among men. Such individuals could not have stated the words Peter and the other apostles did in Acts 5:29 if they had lived in the first century.
Yes, it is true; we must be full of love. But the problem is that some of us do not realize what Biblical love is. Love is NOT the condoning of sin and the toleration of evil. Love "rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth" (I Cor. 13:6). Love is not the ignoring of faults in order to gain popularity. True love for our fellowmen will compel us to point out with the Bible their sins and teach them the error of their ways in order to save their precious souls from eternal destruction. We need to realize that chastisement and love are harmonious. The Lord chastens and rebukes those whom He loves; just as the parent rebukes the child because he loves it so much: "My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are reproved of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Hebrews 12:5-8). That is very emphatic and clear. God loves His children and He chastens or disciplines them. If we are without chastening--then the scripture states that we are bastards and not His sons!
In the light of this passage, how is it some brethren still affirm that reproof and rebuke show a lack of love? Shall we accuse our Heavenly Father of a lack of love? The answer is that their conception of love is not the love that God manifests. Their idea of love is to romance with evil. To love it to death. But such cannot possibly be done; we should not either. The more we tolerate wickedness, the faster it shall grow and grow and overcome us. Christ utterly abhors sin and we must be imitators of Him.
In the latter part of the article from "The Watchtower" were these thoughts:
Anglican clergyman A Gordon Baker is reported by the Toronto Daily Star of April 2, 1962, as saying: "The church has been side-stepping its responsibilities for centuries . . . Christianity has become as vacuum-packed as the coffee on the shelves of today's supermarkets. Surely Jesus Christ did not endow a church with His presence in order to establish a comfortable and secure private club."
(THE WATCHTOWER, December 1, 1963, p. 727)
This is the erroneous conception, surprisingly enough, of some of our own brethren. They view the church as simply a "secure social club," a glorified institution to advance the social status of mankind upon the earth. But Christ did not establish a "club" of any kind or a social society of any type. Rather our Lord built the greatest and most glorious institution of all ages -- the eternal Kingdom, the Church to which the Lord adds tall the saved.
Brethren, in all honesty, let each one of us search our own soul and see if we too are becoming "too concerned over respectability." Are we too concerned with our "impression" on the masses and society? Or are we more concerned with our impression on Almighty God? Are we attracted to the popularity of the world and a high status among brethren, instead of remaining sound in the Gospel at all costs? Do we remain silent on "controversial" questions in order to keep peace at any price? Do we say, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace?" (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11, 15). God help us to be courageous and full of conviction in the Faith.
May we all humble ourselves and realize that the CHURCH is the glorious body of Christ, and the GOSPEL, pure and unchanged, is the POWER of God to save the souls of all men.
Let us please GOD by stating with Paul: "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).
Truth Magazine IX: 11, pp. 13-15