8th August 2020
Our Dear Brethren,
Among chaos it is easy to get lost. It is easy to find oneself caught up in the latest movement or trend. It is easy to become discouraged and misguided when no one else seems to be doing what they are supposed to do. It is easy to become angry or disheartened when no one will listen to what we have to say when we know we are right and they are wrong. It's easy to give up in times like these. But did you know that we are supposed to give up?
I don't mean that we are to surrender to the sinful ways of the world or to just let ourselves flow with the waves of the crowd. I don't mean that we are supposed to set aside our beliefs because others tell us that we must. I don't mean that we have to bend and break or let go of our ambition. I don't mean that we must wither away into obscurity. Let me explain using words that are not my own:
"I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30).
When we were called by God the Father to learn the truth of His word and to understand His plan of salvation through the blood of His Son, we were called to give up. We were called to give up our former selves. We were called to give up any pursuits that work against us and work against who God is. We were called to give up our own free will.
Jesus Christ gave up His own will and continues to do so as we speak. Repeatedly He told all of those around Him that He did not come to accomplish His own will. These two spirit beings who have both eternally existed have been working together for all of time. If any of their plans are going to be accomplished, then they must always work together. That is why Jesus was willing to temporarily give up His former glory to follow the will of God the Father.
The will of the Father and of the Son is that we should be offered salvation so that we might be able to be added to this beautifully harmonized God family at the moment of our resurrection. There is coming a time when this world will be delivered "from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" and the beginning of that salvation was when God the Son gave up His own will so our sins could be forgiven (see Galatians 1:3-5).
Salvation is not broadly promised to all. And we cannot find salvation or entrance into the kingdom of God from ourselves or from our own will. The ways of mankind and the thoughts of mankind only end in sin and death. When we try to add to or take away from the word of God, we are working against the will of the Father and rejecting the salvation that is only found through the death of the Son. We must be willing, as Jesus the Christ was, to give up our own free will and place ourselves in the hands of the Father. Look at this fantastic, humble, serving attitude shown continuously by our Savior:
"Then Jesus said to them, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him'" (John 8:28-29).
Notice the last sentence in this verse: "for I always do those things that please Him." None of us can say this truthfully, at least not fully, yet. This is, however, what we are trying to do in our lives every day. We should all be ready and willing to let go of our own free will and become servants of the Most High God the Father, and followers of our Lord and Master Jesus the Christ. We do this by listening to their words, submitting to their instructions, giving up our own will and taking upon ourselves their will. This is the only way by which we can be saved and gain access into the coming glorious kingdom of God.
It is difficult to let go of our problems, to be willing to submit and let go of our own will. It is difficult to change in action and in word and in mind and in heart. If we seek truth and salvation from ourselves through our own will, "this is impossible, but with God" and submission to His will, "all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
Our love is with you,
Pastor, United Church of God
NYC, NJ, CT, Malawi, Zimbabwe