BUILDING UP THE BROTHERHOOD
November 27, 2014
Today, November 27, 2014, is the day the United States of America sets aside to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving originated as a Christian holiday, but is now celebrated by practically all cultures and religions in America. Even those who do not formally and openly celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday still chose to have turkey, stuffing and the fixins’ on this day or the following day. As we were lounging around today, recovering from our illness, we received an email from a group of sons of the Kingdom that ignited our spirit and stirred our soul. This group referred to their activity for this day as ChristGiving! How utterly beautiful and so appropriate!
Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to God for all of the blessings that have been given during the past year. ChristGiving is a day to give to others out of the blessings one has received. This group of sons is a outstanding example of giving out of one’s blessings.
Last week, November 21st, we received this email from this particular group that we posted to our site:
“Dear brother and sister, I hope you are recovering nicely and Jehovah our Heavenly Father is blessing your continued efforts to bring light into a darkened world and a pitch black Organization that needs every known wattage of light possible to shine in that place. We are having our first clothing and food offering this week in partnership with a 7th Day Adventist Church so we can help those in our community to weather the cold nights with blankets and sweaters along with a hot meal and a lunch sack for later. We believe it is high time we stop being on the sidelines and get in the game. So we will be in touch to let you know the response. God be with all Sons all over the World!!”
We were so impressed with their zeal, their faith, and their love for others. We were particularly impressed at their decision to partnership with a Seventh Day Adventist Church for the purpose of giving to others because this group of sons are from among Jehovah’s Witnesses. As many know, Jehovah’s Witnesses are regularly indoctrinated with the idea that all other religions are under the control of Satan. So their ability to look beyond religious differences and see men and women of like faith in the Father and Christ Jesus is to be applauded. Hopefully, others among Jehovah’s Witnesses can drop the air of religious superiority and accept others who love the Father and Christ Jesus as their brothers and sisters in the faith, honoring unity over uniformity. (For a further discussion of this topic, see Unity, Not Uniformity.
We were eagerly looking forward to their follow up, which we received today just a few hours ago. Here is what they wrote:
“Good Morning Dear Friends, we are out in the neighborhood at a hand car wash feeding the homeless and offering clothing to those in need. We started with about 25 volunteers and have grown to 50 neighbors serving and bring food and clothing to help us. We planned this on the spur of the moment this past Monday and with a giant leap of faith we agreed this would be a great way of imitating Christgiving and we can see his spirit all around us and in us. We've met many who knew some of us from the door to door ministry and we explained that for us it was time to get off the sidelines and get in the game. It was so beautiful to hear that they wished more Witnesses got involved in the community, so we suggested that they make it a matter of prayer and the next time you see them out in service, make it a point to voice your feelings. This is probably the best time I've personally had this day because we are able to feed mind, body and spirit. If you claim to love your fellow man, I wholeheartedly recommend serving your community in new ways to show true Christgiving.”
We could not be more proud to be in association with this faithful group of sons! We have long promoted the need to get out into the community to be of service to others. (See Go About Doing Good.) ChristGiving indeed! This is an earmark of a true follower of Christ as our Lord said:
“I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way, you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said: ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”
– Acts 20:35
And there are others associated with this ministry who are also ChristGiving, not just one day, but regularly throughout the year, such as the hundreds of men in the recovery missions where we first began this ministry. All of these brothers are giving more than information. They are actually meeting the physical needs of those in their communities who are suffering.
To those who are offended that our brothers joined with another religion for this day of giving, we encourage you to look again at the illustration of the Good Samaritan in the 10th chapter of the Book of Luke. Here, Jesus illustrates the true spirit of service and giving. In the illustration, a man, apparently a Jew coming from Jerusalem, was beaten and robbed on the road and left for dead. A priest and a Levite of his own nation and religion crossed the street and passed him by. But a Samaritan, a man of another nation and religion that was despised by the Jews, walked right up to him, felt pity for him, did what he could do personally to help him and then transported him to an inn where he could receive further care. Realizing that the man had been robbed of all his money, this Samaritan paid in advance for the innkeeper’s services and promised to pay more if needed on his return trip. After relating this illustration, Jesus asked:
“Who of these three seems to you to have made himself neighbor to the man who fell victim to the robbers?” He said: “The one who acted mercifully toward him.” Jesus then said to him: “Go and do the same yourself.”
– Luke 10:36-27
So really, the Samaritan is the one who proved to be a real neighbor to the unfortunate traveler, more of a neighbor than his own countrymen and religious ‘brothers.’ Likewise, in the above experience of the group of sons, who proved to be the real neighbors to the unfortunate people in their community? Why would Jesus find fault with them or those who worked with them? Notice this account:
“John said to him: “Teacher, we saw someone expelling demons by using your name, and we tried to prevent him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said: “Do not try to prevent him, for there is no one who will do a powerful work on the basis of my name who will quickly be able to say anything bad about me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”
– Mark 9:38-40
Really, it does not matter what your religious beliefs are. It does not take religious training to know whether it is right to help others or not. Shame on all those who would withhold needed assistance or refuse the help of others because of religious affiliations.
“So, then, as long as we have the opportunity, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”
– Galatians 6:10
“Do not withhold good from those to whom you should give it, If it is within your power to help.”
– Proverbs 3:27
“If a brother or a sister is lacking clothing and enough food for the day, yet one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but you do not give them what they need for their body, of what benefit is it? So, too,faith by itself, without works, is dead.”
– James 2:15-17
Yes, Jesus wants his followers to act merciful toward others, including strangers, which includes giving of our time, our resources, even our finances in support of those in need. And it does not matter what religion one belongs to as long as one worships the Father with spirit and truth.
“Jesus said to her: “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation begins with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshipping him must worship with spirit and truth.”
– John 4:21-24
In 2015, our ministry will take a new direction. We will be going out into the community with the plain and open teachings of Jesus and we invite all of our brothers and sisters worldwide to join us. Those who have written us lamenting that they are alone in their communities will be especially encouraged by this new direction which we will unveil at the top of the year.
We also ask that the group of sons who sent us the above emails let us know how they arranged their food drive so we can share the process with others to give them ideas on how to do the same in their communities. Details, brothers, give us the details if you can.
In the meantime, we encourage all who are able – who have the time and resources – to spend the rest of this year giving and serving others. This time of year is a particularly stressful and depressing time for many who are suffering financial crises and feeling especially lonely. They need our time and attention the most. It is also a good time of year to volunteer, as many organization reach out to the less fortunate during this time of year. A blanket, a coat, a fast food meal will mean the world to a person in need. A friendly visit to an elderly person, or a financial gift to a struggling family will do more for you than for them.
And let our ChristGiving not only be practiced one day out of the year. Let it be our way of life. In this way, we work hand in hand with our celestial family who likewise serve and give behind the scenes. We can be the vehicles they use to manifest the Father’s love to the world.
To all sons, Happy ChristGiving! And may the Father and His Christ richly bless us all!