What We Are Supposed To Do
The last words of Jesus before He ascended into heaven, according to Matthew are “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even to the end off the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
This is certainly a command we must listen to, understand and apply. It is not a question of whether we are to bring the church to people, but how. And while we properly note the danger that we could take actions that are from selfish or worldly reasons, nonetheless we must act, and do good deeds that bring a knowledge of the Lord to people so that they may come to love Him.
One way to avoid acting from the wrong motive is to think from the Word, humbling ourselves to its description of what we ought to be doing as an organization. Here are two teachings that I believe are helpful.
“Everyone throughout the whole world who has led a good life is in the Lord’s mercy received and saved; for good itself is that which receives truth. Good in a person’s life is the ground itself for the seed, that is, for the truth, but evil in his life cannot possibly receive it. Arcana Celestia n.2590
Perhaps this is obvious, but it needs to be remembered. When we reach out to our neighbor, using truth from the Lord’s Word, it is in order to support their goodness. Nothing is more delightful than to enhance a persons joy by introducing them to truths that will support and clarify what they know to be good. And, what is equally wonderful to note, the Lord is not asking us to judge or condemn people by means of His truth. So in every good deed we do as an organization, let us seek ways to support what is good in people. And, the other side of the coin, let us offer programs that not only present truth from the Word, but appeal to goodness, no matter what level of life, natural, mental, emotional or spiritual.
The second teaching to note is “The good that constitutes heaven with a person receives its specific quality from the truths of faith. Thus good becomes more heavenly or more Divine among those who possess genuine truths, which are truths drawn from the Word, though only if they keep them, that is, lead a life in accordance with them. Arcana Celestia n.8768
One of the hallmarks of the Lord’s New Church is the balance between and joining of, faith and charity. While genuine truths are necessary to qualify love, the reality and power of the love is accomplished by its expression in actions. Here again, we hear the Lord telling us that our organization must only do those actions that offer genuine truths. And all our programs must look to the use of truth, not just it’s memorization. We all know from experience that truth is really learned only by using it. This is why programs that include suggested actions, or tasks, that are to be done between learning sessions, are so delightful and effective. We can make it a priority that every time we offer the Word, we include a suggestion for an application, such that one’s life may be led “in accordance with them.”
In Daniel chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in which a statue made of gold, silver, bronze and iron is pulverized by a rosk that then fills the earth. We are told that the Lord’s New Church is that rock! Such is the predicted impact of the Lord’s church, that all other doctrines and disciplines will be dispersed by its truth. Now, remember, this is talking about the Lord’s New Church, not our organization. But because the Lord’s uses people to spread His church, our organization can support this grand vision. Imagine that day when the New Church, more or less consciously, impacts most people on the planet!
This vision gives us a healthy pride in what the Lord has given us. And it gives us a certain sense or urgency, that we need to be in action to participate in this great work. This has been an integral part of the General Church since its founding, as evidence by this final quote from “Words for the New Church,” published in a series beginning in 1879:
“May the glorious day soon come, when man will rise out of the darkness of self-derived intelligence and appeal to the Open Word of God for all that concerns his life, its moral government, its civil and political instruction, its philosophy, its science, its everything.”
Let us join together to make our contribution to this vision!
Precursor March 2004