A Word and Works Church
1 John 3:18
Jesus the good Shepherd, our supreme example, remained keenly concerned about the needs of humanity, not just as spiritual beings but always from a holistic standpoint. It was a matter of the whole gospel for the whole person and like our counterpart, the Early Church we are also challenged to minister holistically.
People have to be fed, clothed, housed and ministered to, at every level of their existence. James the apostle and brother of the Lord Jesus, was crystal clear in his description of true religion and what it entails, when he proposed that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
In his incisive exposition of Faith and Works, the apostle James pushes the point even further, stating “If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15,16). What a relevant, loaded question we are called upon to consider as we do church in today’s context!
Our commission to share the good news is so much more than pious words and a recitation of sanctimonious platitudes. It is most powerfully and eloquently expressed in works of piety and mercy. It is fully enacted by literally following the example of the Christ who always exemplified true piety in words and works.
Concerning the eschatological judgement of the nations, Jesus clarifies for the readers on what terms they will be judged and how justice will be dispensed. He clearly points out it will be based on these salient and practical facts: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25: 35,36).
As His body, we are hereby mandated to literally feed, clothe, visit and be kind not just to friends and near ones, but we are also enjoined to take in and take care of the strangers, even the refugees, the immigrants, and the so-called undocumented aliens! The injunction is still to the poor, the marginalized, the outcast, the downcast, the down-and-out and the last, the least and the lost (Matthews 25:37-39).
The question is, would this 21st century church rise to the challenge or would the church decide to go the way of the unrighteous and continue to turn a blind eye to the needs, issues and problems that plague our nations and the communities in which our churches are situated. There cannot be only a consciousness of overseas missions and needs in distant lands, while communities all around our churches are languishing in moral decay, squalor and despair.
It may do today’s church well to remember Wesley’s words when he said, “works of piety and works of mercy sanctify us.” John the apostle of love speaks in no unambiguous terms when he declares “But whoso hath this world’s good and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17). Then speaking very pointedly to the church, he commands “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Let us be a Word and Works church again – proclaiming good news substantiated by good works – a real Jesus–church!.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Bishop – Northeast Region
March 6, 2021
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region