Do YOU, as a member of the body of Christ, have a truly WILLING spirit? Do you have that outgoing, yielding, GIVING attitude of which Christ spoke so often? It's time to CHECK UP on ourselves! Read this searching article and find out about YOU!
SUSPICION! Greed! Jealousy! Mistrust! Hate! THESE are the words that characterize the society in which you live today! Brethren of God's true Church, just how much of the callousness, the suspicion, the jealousy and the hostility of this world have you carried over into God's Church WITH you?
What is FIRST with You?
Think for a moment. What is truly the BIGGEST thing in your life today? Is it your husband, your wife, or your children? Is it your paycheck, your home or your car? To the people in the world — these are the big things. MOST Americans, when questioned about their problems, and what they thought it would take to solve them, answered, "About one third more INCOME!" They thought about one third more MONEY than they are presently making would SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS! Most all of us will immediately think of Jesus' command to "Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and all these things [these material necessities] shall be added unto you!" (Mat. 6:33.) Yes — most of us would THINK of this scripture — but how many of us actually APPLY it? IS the KINGDOM OF GOD — the family of God — the opportunity to be BORN of God, into His very own family, and to RULE THIS WORLD with a rod of iron really FIRST with us? Is the WORK, which Jesus said must be done before His kingdom will reign on this earth, an all-consuming, all-important, urgent, driving, powerful PART OF YOUR LIFE? Is it really? Are you sure? If it is — you will really know it is by the time you finish reading this article. And if it is not, you should really KNOW it is not.
The WORK of God
If (and this is the biggest "IF' in your life) you are really converted, then you are a part of the very BODY of Christ! (I Cor. 12:13.) Jesus is the HEAD, the Chief, the Leader of that body (Col. 1:18). When Jesus was on this earth as a man, He accomplished the WORK of His Father in His physical body. He said, "I have finished the WORK which thou gavest me to do!" (John 17:4.) But He admitted He could do nothing of Himself — that it was the Father who dwelt IN Him that actually did the work! (John 14:10.) Jesus certainly knew the scripture in Zechariah that says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by MY SPIRIT, saith the Eternal of Hosts" (Zech. 4:6) since He had directly inspired it! But Jesus had merely finished the work which He, personally, through the power of the Spirit of the Father dwelling in Him, had done! He did NOT FINISH ALL THE WORK OF GOD! He commissioned His disciples, ordering them to go to all nations (Matt. 28:19) and saying He would be continuously WITH them — guiding, leading, directing, controlling them (Matt. 28:20). Earlier, He had prophesied, "And THIS GOSPEL of the KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and THEN shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14). The preaching of the Gospel was continuing the WORK that He had only begun! He prepared His Disciples to CONTINUE THAT WORK! He had said, "If I do not the work of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, BELIEVE THE WORKS, that ye may KNOW and BELIEVE, that the Father is in me, and I in Him!" (John 10:37, 38.) Jesus pointed to what was being accomplished. He pointed to what was being DONE! That's where YOU ought to look! You should have really taken the time to PROVE to yourself, once and for all, and beyond the shadow of a doubt — that THIS IS that very BODY OF CHRIST, the ONE, and the ONLY true Church of God on the face of this earth! Jesus said look to the WORK — find out where His true GOSPEL is being preached.
How to Really GROW!
"I am the vine, YOU are the Branches!" said Christ (John 15:5). He said, unless you ABIDE in Him, you can bear no fruit! But he said, if a man "abide NOT in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:6). Do you see? Either you ABIDE IN CHRIST — in HIS BODY — HIS CHURCH DOING HIS OWN WORK, or you will be BURNED! That's why Jesus said the WORK is so important! That's why Mr. Armstrong has emphasized over the years that each member will continue to GROW, and to DEVELOP in spiritual character, only to the degree that his WHOLE HEART and BEING are in the WORK of God! There is no middle ground! Either you are IN GODS CHURCH, and therefore doing the WORK of that Church or you are NOT a real Christian, NOT really converted — and headed toward a blazing lake of FIRE. Jesus said so!
What is YOUR PART?
The Apostle was inspired to describe the body of Christ in minute detail as to FUNCTION in the 12th chapter of First Corinthians. Notice it! "...there are differences of administrations (jobs, duties, functions), but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all [or everything in each one]" (I Cor. 12:5, 6). Paul then goes on to explain about the different outward appearances of each member — that while some seem to be less "honorable" or important, they are actually vitally necessary! This wonderful chapter is a real lesson in HUMILITY — in learning to PROPERLY EVALUATE each job of each individual member of God's Church! God tells us, whether we be seemingly helpless, feeble, unable to do anything, that we are really necessary, really IMPORTANT, really vital to the body as a whole! "I can't do much!" complain some of you widows! "What can I do?" asks a farmer, clerk, salesman or office worker. Brethren begin feeling "left out!" They feel inadequate somehow — as if they are expendable, unnecessary and really useless to the body as a whole! But WHY, brethren? The real reason is only a total lack of understanding, coupled with lack of real living FAITH, and mixed with a lot of SELF-PITY! It's only when people become embroiled in their own personal problems that they feel this way! How MANY articles, broadcasts, sermons have you heard, showing what YOUR PART is in the work of God? Surely it isn't necessary to REPEAT, word for word, all this teaching here! YOUR PART is to PRAY. Pray fervently, earnestly, zealously! Pray particularly, getting down to DETAIL about it. Pray for the WORK, for different facets of the work, for those IN the work, for rulers, for brethren, for the sick, for unconverted ones for whom you need to intervene! There is so MUCH to pray for! Simply giving prayers of THANKS could take hours and hours when we really count our blessings! YOUR PART is to BE A LIGHT! It's to LIVE such a shining example in your own life, in your own area, that others are AMAZED by it. They will want to KNOW what suddenly made you so HAPPY, so VITAL, so filled with ZEST and real ENTHUSIASM! They'll be interested in what makes you this way! YOUR PART IS TO GIVE! It's to GIVE of your TIME in prayer, in concern for others, in helping others directly. It's to GIVE of your SUBSTANCE in helping the poor, the lonely, the widows and orphans, and especially to GIVE to the very work of God! YOUR PART then, is to do exactly what any one part of YOUR BODY does for all other parts! Notice it! "But all these [different jobs, offices and responsibilities) worketh that one and the selfsame spirit, dividing to every man severally as He [God] will. For as the body is ONE, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." (I Cor. 12:11, 12.) Since the body of Christ is to be zealously accomplishing the work of God, and YOU are, if converted, a member of that body — then YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS ABSORBED in the work of God! Every facet of it. It means you are really BEHIND each project, really enthusiastic about each new radio station acquired, each new piece of property purchased, each new minister ordained, each new Church raised up, each new project begun.
How Responsive are YOU?
But ARE you, really this responsive to Gods work? Actually, brethren, many of you are not! Without realizing it, some have permitted themselves to harbor the same basic mistrust, jealousies, suspicions and resentments that characterized their natures BEFORE they were baptized. Brethren! If you really MEANT it when you were plunged into the water, then God says to you, "And you hath he quickened [renewed in Spirit) who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:1, 2). All of us lived in this attitude in times past! We were suspicious, envious, jealous, attributing WRONG MOTIVES to other people. But read the rest of this scripture! "Among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were BY NATURE the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph. 2:3). But NOW, God says, we have been "quickened" by receiving His Spirit-renewed, changed, made different! "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ [by grace are ye saved]; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places [heavenly responsibilities, jobs, offices — duties delegated from heaven] in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:5, 6). The job God has given us to do is varied. It is composed of many different duties, many different areas of endeavor, many different programs, fields, projects. Today, as God gives more and more real growth to His work, and as it becomes better and better organized, it is expanding into ever-increasing departments. But what about it, brethren — are you really with, for, behind, responsive toward, enthusiastic about each PHASE OF GOD'S WORK?
How Some Wither Away!
Frankly, brethren — one of the main purposes of this article is because I have a sizeable stack of cards I don't know what to do with. They were returned by some few of YOU after Mr. Armstrong's letter quite some time ago about PLEDGES for the building program! Some apparently misunderstood. Others simply didn't know how to answer. But still others became hostile, suspicious, and utterly UNresponsive. Some sent back cards on which they had scrawled "I DON'T MAKE PLEDGES! " Think of it! Even after God's minister had called upon you, in the name of your HEAD and your SAVIOUR, Jesus Christ, some were suspicious, distrustful, and carnal. Mr. Armstrong explained thoroughly that we are constantly PLEDGING to do this or that. Even when we say we will do so and so, we are PLEDGING! Pledging, with all the very lenient CONDITIONS Mr. Armstrong made plain, is NOT MAKING A VOW! But some few, WITH NO REAL FAITH IN THE HEAD OF THIS CHURCH — JESUS CHRIST — refused to help. ONLY A FEW! But even one would have been too many! Look at the athlete for a moment. The brain, the nerve center of the body, is much like the physical leaders God has placed in His Church. The arms, legs, hands and feet, the torso and all parts of it might be likened to all the various MEMBERS of God's Church. In the body, they are actually called "members." What does the athlete who is playing a complicated game DO when he needs a burst of speed and agility? What actually happens? Simply defined, there is an instantaneous communication from the brain, via the nervous system, to the muscles in all the limbs. They respond. The legs drive, the arms swing rhythmically, the whole body reacts! In sports, the athlete does these things AUTOMATICALLY! His WHOLE BODY, like one smoothly-functioning, well-oiled machine, simply reacts automatically! He doesn't have to slowly ponder, think, and reason out each move he makes. But observe the totally UNcoordinated novice. He might have a real grimace of determination on his face! He's trying to play the game. He grips the racquet in his hand, and with a look of fierce concentration, makes a pitiful stab at the ball. He misses! His legs can't react in time, his arms simply don't DO what he wants them to do — even though he wants to play the game with all his heart. His EYE is not really "on" the ball — he simply can't SEE it part of the time. The poor fellow is so UNcoordinated, so UNprofessional — appearing that it's laughable. What is the difference here? The one responds AUTOMATICALLY! Why? Because he's USED to it. He's accustomed to the sport — he's really PRACTICED! The other can't respond to his own desires. Why? Because he's simply a NOVICE at the game. He's never tried before — he's never really practiced until it became automatic. Can you see how this affects the BODY OF CHRIST? Jesus Christ, by directly INSPIRING HIS MINISTERS, is the brain! He communicates to all parts of the body through the nervous system of radio, the printed page, or sermons and counsel, or Co-worker and member letters. The body, if it is really RESPONSIVE TO CHRIST, should RESPOND — IMMEDIATELY! It should really ACT! Then, with a burst of real ENERGY, with the smoothly flowing, automatic ability that comes with real PRACTICE, the body accomplishes the task the brain has set for it! Misused, or unused muscles soon wither away! Someone who is not AN ACTIVE MEMBER of God's Church, that is UNCOORDINATED with the body will become stiff from disuse. Finally — it will simply be UNABLE to be used. Remember — if you are really a part of the body of Christ, then you'll be responding AUTOMATICALLY to what He, Christ, says! And He says it THROUGH HIS MINISTERS!
Our Forefathers' Example
Perhaps you have all read the example of our forefathers during Moses' time. Then, as now, God's work on earth had an energetic BUILDING program. They were asked to make offerings for that program. "And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the ETERNAL commanded, saying, 'take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord, whosoever is of a WILLING HEART, let him bring it...'" (Ex. 35:4,5). After hearing the detailed instructions, on the type materials that were needed, they left Moses, "...and they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Eternal's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation... and they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted..." (Ex. 35:21, 22). Later, God caused it to be repeated yet a third time that the people were really WILLING to help (Ex. 35:29). They really became responsive! Somehow, even though unconverted, the very thought of doing something together, something really FINE, of erecting and decorating a FINE TABERNACLE for the glory of God, really INSPIRED our forefathers! What about US, today? Are we, as CONVERTED people — in whom is the very mind and Spirit of Christ — even as willing as they were? Finally, some of the foremen over the work told Moses, "The people bring MUCH MORE THAN ENOUGH for the service of the work... and Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, 'Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.' So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and TOO MUCH!" (Ex. 36:5-7.) What a wonderful example!
WHERE Can You Really HELP?
Today, the body of Christ is energetically, actively, systematically accomplishing MANY different tasks! Gods people, as the various members of that body, just as the athlete in the final moments of the game, must be called upon for extra effort, for that spark of energy, of real ZEAL that is needed to WIN! Brethren — you should be really ENTHUSIASTICALLY and ZEALOUSLY behind the building program! You should see the really CRITICAL NEED! YOU should be ONE in mind and spirit in wanting to see real accomplishment in all phases of God's work! Many are. But, sad enough, many are not. Today, with the expanding radio work, the burgeoning publishing work, the many new offices being opened up, the hundreds being baptized and brought into the body of Christ, the new Churches being raised up, the new schools planned, the building program, the summer educational programs — there are MANY phases of God's work in which you should take an ACTIVE INTEREST! During David's time, the cry went out to the people to give offerings for the time when Solomon would build the temple. The inspiring record tells us, "Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly, and GAVE for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. "And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the Eternal... then the people rejoiced, for that they offered WILLINGLY, because with PERFECT HEART [NOT suspicious, doubting, jealous-filled with carnal greed and selfish lust!] they offered WILLINGLY to the Eternal, and David the king also rejoiced with great joy" (I Chron. 29:6-9). Brethren — what those people gave is astounding! They gave TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS' WORTH OF GOLD — NINETEEN AND ONE-HALF MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF SILVER, AND ABOUT SEVEN THOUSAND TONS OF BRASS AND IRON! David himself had already given over ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS worth of gold and silver! (verses 3-5.) This was an offering of a NATION, however — not just a small, scattered group of called out ones! But regardless of the size of the offering — the SPIRIT was really willing! What about us, today? Are we really WILLING to give as God has commanded! Do we look forward to the few times in the year, at the annual Holy Days, when offerings are taken up with teal PLEASURE — with EXPECTANCY — with ENTHUSIASM? Or does it become a little EMBARRASSING for us during the collection? Do we receive Co-worker and Member letters about the building programs, about new stations, new offices, new plans with real RESPONSIVENESS, with ENTHUSIASM and with a really willing spirit? Or do we think there is something "fishy" here — and become suspicious? God says, through Solomon, "There is he that GIVES FREELY, and yet increases, and there is he that withholds more than is fitting, but tends toward poverty! (Prov. 11:24, RSV, and margin.) Yes, it truly is more blessed to GIVE than to receive! Some of us need to really PRAY for forgiveness! We need to ask God to search and TRY our hearts — cleansing us completely from any of these carnal, suspicious motives and attitudes we have had in the past. We need to become so totally yielded and linked together that we really ARE just like ONE WELL TRAINED BODY! Brethren, let's DO it! Let's not just put this article down — and think it was either a "nice article" or "interesting," or some such thing! Let's search our own hearts — let's awake to the times — let's realize NOTHING is as important now as the work of God! Only then will God really BLESS us!