Changing Our Focus
In the Church of God of Prophecy there has always been such a strong emphasis on the coming kingdom and the imminent return of Christ to set up His kingdom of righteousness and “shalom” on earth, so much so that the necessity of Christian action in the world to change established systems and orders, seemed almost pointless and unnecessary. The rationale was, why put so much emphasis on the here and the now when Jesus is so soon to return to make all things new and right. The believers saw themselves mainly as strangers and pilgrims passing through – “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:14-16).
As a result, the church adopted a hands-off approach, endeavoring mainly to save the soul while the rest was given very little consideration. Instead of seeing ourselves as agents of transformation for the whole person we viewed ourselves as responsible mainly for just saving and taking care of the soul, which sometimes included personal healing for the body. Somehow we failed to perceive and develop a holistic view of humankind as the Scriptures explicitly declare – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).
“. . . Of the dust of the ground” is most telling. It informs the reader that human beings are indeed (1) connected and related to one another, (2) related to God and (3) all related to the land. Not only was humankind created to be in communion with God, but they were obviously created to be in community with each other –
socially, spiritually, physically and in every other sense of the word.
Scriptures advance the truth that the whole being is involved and incorporated in God’s redemptive and sanctifying process (1 Thess. 5:23). This truth is unequivocally portrayed in the life and teachings of the Christ as He ministered holistically to every soul with whom He came into contact. It cannot never be dismissed or in any way disregarded that Jesus came to tackle sin in its totality and to redeem all of creation – personal, social and cosmic (John 3:16).
He entered humanity and by His life, death and resurrection, restored its lost righteousness (Matt 20:28). He came to rectify humankind’s disordered emotions and affections and indeed to cause humanity to be rightly ordered into right relationship with God and each other. May we never forget that it is the gospel message that reminds the church constantly that we are definitely our brother’s keeper and that his problem is our problem and vice versa. We deliberately decide to look out for each other – to genuinely care one for another.
I trust the message of social responsibility and social action can genuinely become a positive driving force among the adherents of the Church of God again. May the theological lenses of this church be so adjusted to truly reflect real biblical, Christ-like ministry going beyond the personal forgiveness of sins to powerfully impacting our communities all around us and society as a whole. Especially in these unprecedented times of Covid-19, atrocious systemic racism, political and social unrest and economic disparity – it is imperative that we become a more socially conscious and active church, like the Jesus who died not just to change individuals, but all of society. The fact that all of society needs to be redeemed, should become and remain a real concern for our pilgrim church! We preach the need for personal salvation, but real personal salvation results in serious social concern and action!
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Bishop – Northeast Region
March 13, 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
March 13, 2021