Increasing Unity in the Body
The Feast this year was, in spite of all the trauma which surrounded it, a wonderful success. Everyone left on a high. Highs, however, can quickly turn into lows for God's people, if we lose our focus. With the wonderful experience of the Feast behind us, we have to return to our respective homes to once again confront Satan's society on a daily basis.
How can we prevent a let down? First, reflect on the Feast and what made it such a success and extend the benefits into your daily routine through to Sabbath services to the Spring Holy Days and on to the Feast of Tabernacles in 2005. Make it a goal to build on the lessons learned at the Feast this year and become more of a united family than ever.
At the same time, better understand your enemy, the Devil. Realize his goals. Consider what Satan does not want God's people to achieve.
He does not want Christians to know where they are in the chronology of end-time prophecy; thus, alert and watching. To help prevent this, annually study Mr. Armstrong's two-volume autobiography. You might want to start this year in Volume Two, from 1968 on, to gain a full grasp of the extent and power of God's gospel work over its last eighteen years. This will provide a stark contrast to what others are attempting to do today. Mystery of the Ages should also be read annually, along with the Revelation workbook. This will be a yearly reminder of our origins, our position in prophecy right now and what will shortly come to pass. Remember the work of God goes on and you are that work!
The Body of Christ, His Church, is composed of individuals with whom God is working, through His Spirit. As each individual becomes more Christ-like, the body as a whole becomes more harmonious and unified. Each of us, then, is individually responsible for the unity God and Christ demand. When that unity is lacking, it is because of Satan's influence upon one or more of us; thus it is vital that we think about what we are about to say or do. Evaluate our thoughts and actions from the perspective of whether they will uplift and increase unity in the body or diminish it.
Be discreet! Never give away personal and private information about someone to others without permission and proper discretion. This can cause terrible offense and a brother offended is harder to win back than a strongly defended city. Disclosing personal information can be like a drug high, because it feeds the self-image's need to feel important and of worth. However, Satan can use this weakness, for it is a weakness, to create bitterness and division. So let's all guard our tongues lest we give Satan an advantage.
Satan does not want us to know our specific commission. What is that commission? Quite simply to love one another as love is expressed multiple times in John's epistles. This is a mutual leadership responsibility which we cannot accomplish unless Christ is actively living His life in us. So welcome Him in and then His love will enable us to truly achieve unity, for Christ is at peace with Himself. This has to be our focus.
Satan wants us to be distracted, unfocused and unsure. But we know the goal and with God's support we will not allow ourselves to become distracted.
Satan does not want us to be wholehearted, fired up, or enthusiastic about Christ's soon coming Kingdom and our part in it. He wants us to think we are unsuitable for a position of rulership. He hopes to use rulership, as exhibited in this society to turn us off. God on the other hand created the family to school us in His form of rulership or government. The husband is the loving head of this government; his wife as his supporter and adviser. The children are those being ruled, or better stated served, and taught to serve others in a godly way. This is the crux of God's government! The family and the Church, made up of many families, is God's workshop for developing service based on God's love. This is the environment God has created to prepare us for a position in Christ's millennial government. Remember, when that day comes we will be Spirit beings, literally Spirit-born Sons of God. We will not be the limited human beings we are today. So when we actually take our positions under Christ, we will be prepared for the job.
Consider, then, if God demands unity, Satan seeks to promote division, mistrust, factions, bickering and confusion. It will take each and every one of us working hard to prevent such an outcome. But this is how God and Christ are judging us. We must pray for more of God's Spirit so that we have the desire and power to resist Satan and to keep moving forward in the right direction.
Satan hates government, order and discipline. Instead he is the author of confusion. Following God's government is a major key to maintaining and fostering unity. Always understand your place, don't go beyond your responsibility. If in doubt check it out with those at a higher level, such as the ministry, or those they have appointed to special tasks. Mr. Little mentioned on the Last Great Day that in some cases this did not always happen this Feast. When instructions are ignored or violated, the consequences can negatively impact all of us and perhaps jeopardize our relationship with our festival hosts. So again, think before you act!
Mr. Armstrong used to talk a great deal about the two trees representing the way of give and the way of get. You, brethren, exhibited the way of give at this year's Feast and subsequently reaped the benefits. That's the great lesson to never lose sight of. Since you exhibited the way of give at the Feast, you know how to do it; but it will not be easy to keep doing it. It will take concentration and effort; for it is not natural to us, whereas selfishness is.
Remember why God called you. He saw in you the potential, when teamed up with His Holy Spirit, to qualify to rule with Christ. He wants you to succeed and if God is for you, who, including Satan, can thwart God's will? The Devil of course will attempt to discourage and undermine your confidence, because he knows that God's Church, Worldwide is aware of the time it is living in and what God requires of it. But Satan is a big loser, and James tells us that if we resist him and work to overcome our natural selves, he will flee from us.
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. . . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (Jas. 4:5-8, 10).
Let's continue to cast out our false self-image and replace it with Christ. Then we will continue to grow spiritually as our capacity to genuinely love one another increases. Remember Paul's words in Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Keep holding fast and moving along in greater unity and the Kingdom will come upon us all the sooner.
. . . In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (II Pet. 3:10b-12).
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you (II Pet. 3:14-15).
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen (II Pet. 3:17-18).
In Christ's service,
Robert J. Elliott
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Increasing Unity in the Body
God's Church, Worldwide