What Are We Supposed to Do?
We have been discussing what the doctrines say our organization is supposed to be doing in the world. We have searched the Word for a description of the Lord’s Church and now seek a way to support the establishment of the Lord’s church on earth.
In Matthew Chapter 10, Jesus sent out His Apostles giving them some fairly precise directions. Included were two activities, preaching and healing. They were to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. And Jesus gave them power whereby they could heal the sick, raise the dead and exorcise evil spirits. And as if that were not a heavy enough responsibility, He directed that they should not carry any money, nor even the usual bag to carry a day’s worth of food. Now, to be sure, these were very special times. But it is difficult for anyone nowadays to imagine these men maintaining such a great trust in this man, even such a charismatic one. Would any one of us be willing to do the same thing? No provision for food, shelter and clothing?
Today, conditions are radically different. They Lord does not command us to make such physical sacrifices. We do not have to weary ourselves. We do not have to impoverish ourselves. The Lord has accomplished the Redemption and His second coming, which give us a different set of responsibilities. Certainly, there are physical aspects to the tasks He gives us now. As the Writings for the New Church emphasize, our good hearts and enlightened understandings must produce good deeds in our actions or they do not really exist.
Jesus gave His Apostles three aphorisms to carry them through the days ahead of them, to bolster them and keep them focused. The first is “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) As we design and implement programs that we know are good deeds, we are to be encouraged by the fact that the Lord provides the spiritual insight and strength to do what is good. And He then shows us how to manage our resources to their best effect when we plan wisely, yet buoyed by the sure knowledge that the Lord has given us, and will continue to give us, all that we need to perform the uses we take on.
The next aphorism is “A worker is worthy of his food.” (Matthew 10:10) Can we approach our responsibilities with the expectation that the Lord provides enough resources to carry us through all that we want to provide for our neighbors? That certainly would make the weight of the responsibility lighter. We can be certain that as we do good works for our neighbor, we will be blessed, and that blessing will impact even the physical resources needed to continue the use.
And the final aphorism Jesus offered His Apostles is “Be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Maybe their world was not so different from ours! The crafty are always with us! And yet, Jesus promised a protection. If the Apostles did their jobs as they were instructed, and used their common sense, it would keep them from harm. If they were at all cruel or sought to protect themselves based on their own ideas, they would not be protected. The Writings tell us that this passage means that we need to be both prudent and gentle, both from a good motive. Our responsibilities are very much lighter when we realize that the Lord provides protection from harm as we are gentle and innocent, so long as we use the intelligence He has given us, and so long as we rely upon Him.
What a wonderful church organization we will have as we live according to these principles! Let us not be discouraged by the prospect of how hard this will be, or how unlikely it is that we can be this way. The Lord wants only to encourage us! He shows us the path to this ideal state. Let us together, hand in hand, and heart to heart, begin the journey to fulfilling the Lord’s command to love our neighbor, and in this case, love them specifically through the spreading of our church!
Precursor February 2004