This was my very first attempt at writing an article. My dormant writing juices had been stirred to action by the recent 1995 upheaval in Worldwide, and I felt the call to take pen in hand and see if I couldn’t somehow put together a parody that would open the eyes of a few of the blind legalists who were jumping ship just when they should be rejoicing at what God had delivered us from. I sent this parody in to the recently established “In Transition – News of the Churches of God” monthly newspaper, and they somehow deemed it worthy of being published. Whistler
A Tale of Two Churches
Several years ago, God looked down on a sincere but sincerely deceived church by the name of the Worldwide Church of God and decided to have mercy on it. It had spent its 60-odd years of existence immersed in the depths of legalism that likely hadn’t been seen since the time of the Pharisees. Seldom had there been seen a group that held to the law of the old covenant as the basis of their righteousness as did this group.
They were not going to be fooled by the “protestant” view of grace and the new covenant. And those verses in Galatians and Hebrews that gave some members heartburn could be explained. God would never have done away with any law he had established – even those the world considered ceremonial and shadows of things to come.
They knew better. Law was where it was at. Keep the law to the letter and you had it made (as any good Pharisee could have told you). Of course, now you had to keep it more vigorously, as “the spirit” was now available to help you keep it perfectly. Grace plus works was the formula that God was prescribing these days. It was all on your own back, qualifying for salvation. It was all so obvious in the Bible, except no one could see it. This was even further proof that they were right.
But God, in his mercy, decided the time for loving correction had arrived. He selected a two-by-four of soft pine, no knot holes and no nails. A gentle swing caught the WCG membership squarely between the eyes, and down they went – heads spinning. Now that he had their attention (or at least of some of them), a strange thing occurred. Many of the membership, upon arising and dusting themselves off, saw for the first time a brilliant light that had been shining all along, but had not been noticed, or maybe had just been ignored. That light was Christ.
These members found, that for some strange reason, reading the Bible in this new light brought more joy and understanding than they had ever known before – much greater than they had ever experienced when they had read in the flickering light from the “candle of the law.” They felt a love and peace and an acceptance by God and Christ, and a unity with mankind that they had never experienced before. They found that their focus was now no longer on themselves, but on Christ.
But other members, upon getting up off the floor, saw no light, but did see a purple lump rising in the center of their foreheads. They immediately laid hands on those who saw this new light, and accused them of swinging the beam, or whatever it was that had floored them. These innocent members attempted to get the second group to see the light also, but to no avail – they thought the others had lost their minds (Satan at work, no doubt). This second group of WCG members insisted that there couldn’t possibly be any better light to read by than “the candle of the law” – for God’s law was perfect light – just check it out in the Bible (particularly the old testament).
As these two groups could not agree, the second group decided it was time to split off and start their own church, so that they could be faithful to the “candle light” once delivered, as it was obvious that the first group had totally lost it. They decided that they must all pull together and be “United” at all costs. Hey! What a wonderful name! Surely it must have been inspired by God! God was surely leading them into great things. They were so pleased and proud to have such an inspired name!
But God was not pleased. Apparently a two-by-four of soft pine applied between the eyes is not adequate in all cases to get one’s attention. So this time God selected a four-by-four of hard wood, with a few choice knots protruding here and there. This he applied a bit more firmly, but lovingly, once again just slightly north of between the eyes, to this group who were “united” (or so they thought).
A strange thing occurred once they had arisen and dusted themselves off, trying to act (unsuccessfully) as though nothing had happened. As their minds cleared and they began to converse with each other, they quickly discovered that they were not nearly as “united” as they had thought. Their name . . a past source of pride and strength . . was now their weakness and source of embarrassment! In fact, the ideas and plans of the others often seemed like just so much “babel” to them (as in “tower of”). This was so disruptive that a number of groups were formed and broke off to start their own churches. And still this “united” church could not (or would not) see the error of its way or acknowledge “the light.”
God was not pleased. Apparently an even stronger “attention-getter” was going to be needed . . .
(to be continued . . if necessary)