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Sunday: Caring for God’s People — 29 Comments

  1. One of my friends was doing a sociology course as part of his education degree at university. The course involved a section on comparative religion and they had an assignment to visit a church to observe the interaction among members. The students were told that if they were members of a church or congregation, they should not use their own church for the study, but rather go somewhere else. My friend, who was a Seventh-day Adventist, decided that he would visit a charismatic church for his study. He reported that he felt welcomed right from the moment he stepped out of the car. He was treated as family. He was welcomed with a big hug. He commented that he almost converted on the spot.

    It is perhaps too easy to make a visitor feel welcome but what do we do about continued support and encouragement. How many ex-Seventh-day Adventists have left the church because nobody was interested in them anymore?

    Perhaps, there is more meaning in the phrase, "Let brotherly love continue ..." than we give credit for.

    • I definitely agree with your comment. My family and I have moved around a lot and there have been several times when we have gone to a church for the first time and were totally ignored by members AND the Pastor. We as Christians have to remember to always show brotherly love. As the lesson states, we never know when we may be entertaining angels.

  2. If you are a leader in your community of faith, like Paul was, how do you promote brotherly love?
    Firstly, like Paul does in most of his writings, he shares the good news that Jesus Christ died so He could forgive when we have missed the mark of being in His image and sends the Holy Spirit to transform our characters to be like His character. Then Paul introduces his next point saying "therefore" and provides practical applications of the transformed life.

    Back to the question - how to make sure no one feels left out in a large group of people of different personality types including introverts and extroverts?
    I believe Paul provides the clue to the answer in his writings about spiritual gifts.
    A leader could facilitate small groups of people with similar spiritual gifts to support each other and to reach out to those in need. A sense of belonging and being useful would promote brotherly love.

    Any other suggestions?

    • My church consists mostly of old age people. We have lunch together on sabbaths when a brother preacher from another branch preach to us. We share our food and time together in this sabbath hour.

  3. My wife and I were in a SDA Church in Utah when we were on a vacation then and noticed that there seemed to be a bond of fellowship with all that were present for the worship service but as soon as the service was over there was no more interaction between anyone at all even to us as visitors. There was no invitations for sharing the noon meal with anyone there at the church premises or to a church members' home either. It was like going to a theater in a city and going home after the movie was over.

    And on another occasion, a SDA Church nearby announced by an elder of that church that the fellowship meal had been cancelled and for those who had relatives to invite their friends for Sabbath meals after their Church Worhip Services were over.

    • While being hospitable and welcoming are worthwhile, the continued support and encouragement for members in the long-term is even more important. I have been in our current church for nearly 40 years and am now old and set in my ways; I forget people's names; I am opinionated; slow of speech and an introvert. I am uncomfortable talking to strangers who I have just met. And yes, there are people who are better socially adjusted than I am, who seek me out and make me feel welcome. I recognise that I attend a big church and it is easy to forget the quiet ones who say very little. I am fortunate and have good friends, but I know some folk who find it very difficult to fit in to a large church socially. I very much appreciate the efforts of those folk who go out of their way to ensure that new members will still be attending in years to come. ... and that is a lot more than a potluck, after the service.

      • Amen, Maurice Ashton, however; this is another thing about church potlucks too in our SDA Churches: There seem to always be cliques there where members seem to gravitate towards the tables where their cliques gather together to eat together and seem to not go to see or eat at a different table each time to meet those that are not of their own cliques.

        • I understand your concern Pete, but bear in mind cliques are often friends with common interests. The danger of cliques is that they become exclusive and ignore the plight of others. A good idea is to always keep a few extra seats near you so that you can offer a seat to someone you see alone.

          I have my own special trick for creating interaction. It is fairly well known in our church that I am a bird photographer and I can usually get a conversation going about birds. That is one reason that I always take my iPad to local potlucks. I pretend I am looking at my favourite brightly coloured birds. It is usually not long before I am identifying birds from vague descriptions given to me by almost complete strangers. ... and I am by nature an introvert!

          I am sure there are others who have good ideas for creating an interest in a group situation.

          • Maurice Ashton, I have run into SDA introverts that baffle me about this in their characters because EGW says that Jesus was "Highly sociable." So then why would any of us who claim that we love Jesus and that we also follow Jesus go on to admit that we are introverts? Should we not pray that God give us social skills that are contrary to being introverts? And keep on praying until God does give us this so that we can then also be like Jesus in social skills?

            • Pete, remember Paul:

              And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 2 Cor 12:7 KJV

              Paul does not fill in the details of what his "Thorn in the Flesh" was, but it was obviously something that troubled him deeply. I am glad he is delightfully vague about it. He prayed about it three times, and God answered his prayer:

              And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. @ Cor 12:9 KJV

              And Paul accepted that answer:

              Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 cor 12:10 KJV

              Being an introvert is not a sin. It is part of my personality, not my character. I have prayed about it and God has answered ny prayers two-fold. I have accepted who I am and have learned to live with it. Academics need long periods without social interaction to think and solve problems. Secondly, he gave me an extrovert wife who more than makes up for my introverted personality.

        • Pete, now that you have brought to our attention the lack of hospitality you have experienced in some communities we would like to hear your successes in developing a positive interaction where you worship.

          • I have no idea if what my wife and I do is a success or not. We always just go sit by ourselves at a table that has no cliques at all. sometimes we just end up eating by ourselves throughout the entire mealtime. But for the most part, someone always joins us and then another one joins us etc. and etc.

  4. The word "hospital" comes from the word "hospitality". Basil was a 4th Century Christian who created this whole new social structure, the hospital. It was meant to take in the poor, the leper, those who couldn't pay...and to treat everyone with brotherly love.

    The following story is from https://orthochristian.com/117122.html

    "Who is Basil...? From a purely physical (earthly/materialistic) point of view, a weak man, burdened with many ailments, which were the cause of his early death (he died at age 49). But this man managed to leave behind a legacy of great social significance.

    In the middle of the fourth century, famine broke out. Basil, then a priest, immediately created free public canteens for those suffering from hunger. To achieve this, he had to fight, prove, hunt for, and even scream at the rich, to convince them to open their food supplies and share with the hungry.

    It was then, during the terrible winter of 367 that Basil understood he needed to create his own organization—an institution that would serve the suffering. This strong man could patiently bear his infirmities, but he could not bear to see the suffering of others.....

    In the center of the hospital complex there was a church, and around it there were structures, guest houses/hotels, schools, orphanages, homes for the poor, and the hospital itself. Such a thing had not existed anywhere else. Basil personally supervised the work, gave advice to the builders, and worked himself.

    When the construction of this magnificent city was completed—where the main focus was love for humanity—Basil took over the leadership of one of the departments of the hospital.

    Few people know that Basil had seven diplomas of education—one of them being a diploma of medical education. Therefore, he decided to use one of his worldly professions in life.

    He chose the most difficult thing—the quarantine department for the lepers. These unfortunate people were rejected by all, they were shunned, they lived in terrible agony; it was essentially like a very slow death. Basil took their care upon himself. He himself bandaged and washed these patients, and not only that, he directly spent time with them, embraced them, seeing in everyone the Image of God.....

    (At his death one of his friends said)...."If we compare the hospital of Saint Basil the Great with the richest cities, such as Thebes of Boeotia, Babylon, the Pyramids of Egypt and ancient temples, we see that nothing was left of all their former greatness. Even the very people themselves are no more.

    But in the Basileiad hospital, we see people whom everyone rejected and hated because of their illness. And Basil the Great managed to convince us that if we consider ourselves humans, we can not neglect our own kind, for with our heartlessness and wickedness, we offend Christ Himself, who is the head of all."

  5. Christianity has become what the apostle Paul witnessed himself in Corinth and Ephesus.
    1Corinthians 1:11-13, Acts 20:28-33.

    In all Christian denominations I have visited around the world, I have found both brotherly love and sectarianism.

    My attemp at reconciling Christianity to myself, in its diversity, throughout the world, post, the apostle Paul to the Gentiles, is that carnal Israel and nations in general were tolerated by God until its total corruption. Matthew 23, Genesis 15:16 ....
    SO the CORE Christian message was passed on in history, just like God's long suffering with carnal Israel. ....the RCC gave us the scriptures we have ! ???

    wheat and weeds continues !
    Be of good cheer, I have overcome Satan, sin and death (paraphrased my lord)

  6. We are the ‘body in and of Christ’ – I think that always keeping in mind this Truth would awaken in the believer the desire to serve one another more committedly. Serving, to me, is a disposition, not an act that stands alone having a beginning and an end.

    I think showing kindness and empathy to all man, regardless of religious affiliation or status as a believer or non-believer, is what we as the body in Christ have been called to express – Rom.12:5.
    1Cor.12:27 states that believers are the “body of Christ and individually members of it”. They form the brother-/sisterhood of believers, though each individual is still called upon in their personal life to daily live as the spirit of Christ Jesus leads them to serve – Eph.2:10.

    God is no respecter of persons, He relates to all mankind as their Father - Rom.5:8 - ”God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We do well to remember this Truth when we meet our fellow man and neighbor.

    • Hi Brigitte
      When you say *WE* are a body of Christ do you mean the SDA denomination church ?
      I know when I associated with the JWs years ago, all other denominations were regarded as false Christians !

      • Hi Larry - I think of ‘we’ as representative of all Christians of all denominations. The term ‘body of Christ’, as far as I consider it, are all those who believe Christ Jesus to have shown man the Will of the Father and live their lives in His spiritual kingdom, governed by its laws by faith.
        These teachings of Christ are revelations from the Father shared with humanity, and therefore not dependent on creeds or practices of individual denominations.
        I do not recognize JW - what does it stand for?

        • Amen sister..

          JWs are Jehovah Witnesses!
          just another failed end time eschatology group !
          1914 DOA !

          • The two things that JW's failed in and they are very serious failures too is that they not only stopped believing what the first chapter of Hebrews says about Jesus being also God and that therefore stopped believing in Jesus' Divinity, they also went on to create their own version of The Bible to push this erroneous belief of theirs.

            • Yes Pete !

              I was shunned for not accepting 1914 end time eschatolog over 30 years ago and guess what ?

              The GB acknowledge 1914 was pure speculation recently, grasping at straws. ...

              Don't put YOUR trust in end time dates.

              The gospel is Christ not an end time eschatology but personal eschatology
              Hebrews 9:27

  7. Saint Maximus the Confessor, said the following:

    “The person, in whom love lives, receives from God the gift of miracles.”

    Love is the main virtue, and it brings us closer to God, for He Himself is Love. Love is not beautiful words, love is works. You are doctors. You are doctors. You have a great privilege over others: you by your service are called to give love. As one Elder from the Holy Mountain said: “For a Doctor the gates of heaven are always open.”

  8. Hospitality is one of the qualifications for elders. And yet I have been a SDA for over 50 years and for the most part elders seem to lack this trait. Elders seem to be very active during the church worship service but then go on to be very unhospitable after that. Deacons also seem to just be at the worship service to help pick up the offering but go home to be alone the rest of the Sabbath at home and very unhospitable.

  9. The world is full of Evil. A lot of Evil people pretends to be good and even visit churches. the tendency of inviting an Evil person to your house for a meal is very common. you invite a person for a meal in your house in the name of showing brotherly love and He ended up harming you or a member of your Household. With this picture in mind, how can one keep showing brotherly Love in this direction? or what other safer ways are there for practicing this?

  10. Maurice Ashton, I doubt that the Apostle Paul's "Thorn in the flesh" was a "social inadequacy." And Paul prayed three times for God to remove it. Then he heard God's voice that God's grace was sufficient for him about this. How many times have you prayed about your "Social Inadequacy?." And did you hear God's voice telling you then after at least three times that He was not going to give you more "Social Skills" than you already have?

    • Being an introvert is not the same as social inadequacy. And just because a person is an introvert does not mean they don't have social skills. I have seen extroverts with poor social skills. Your conversation raises a number of serious issues about how we perceive others.

      I accept the personality that I have. It is not a disability or a sinful condition. It is simply me and I accept who I am. I do not covert extrovert behaviour. I think that is the lesson we can learn from the story I quoted about Paul. It was not the specifics of the "thorn" that is important, but rather the fact that God's grace is sufficient for us and if he accepts us as we are, we can accept it too.

      I think your last question narrows the way God works far too much. God has given me contentment with who I am. That is sufficient. And he has opened doors for me to use my introverted nature. What more could I ask for?

      • I was a very seriously deficient social introvert until I learned to do what Jesus said to do in matthew 7:7, "Ask, Seek, Knock etc." And God answered my prayer and became more socially gifted. Maybe it is because you fail to see being an introvert as a social deficiency that you are still an introvert. So you therefore do not ask, seek, and knock for God to bless you this way. God did for me, why should He not for you?

        • I am glad that God has answered your prayer, Pete? He has answered mine as well. He has not changed me personality. Rather he has taught me to accept it and work within it. Please understand that an introvert is not necessarily socially deficient.

          • I am also an introvert and the LORD has given me a Spiritual Gift to reach out to others who are also introverts. It has been estimated that one third of all people are introverts. As an introvert I prefer to interact with small groups and to have meaningful discussions rather than large groups engaging in meaningless social chitchat. Even though I am an introvert I am able to preach sermons in front of a crowd like Jesus did. Like Jesus did with Nicodemus, the women at the well and Martha, I have meaningful discussions with individuals one on one. An introvert can follow Jesus' example.
            I believe that the LORD needs and can use all types of personalities, I believe there were a variety among the 12 disciples.
            1Cor 12:4-20
            4There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6There are different ways of working, but the same God works all things in all people.
            7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in various tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who apportions them to each one as He determines.
            12The body is a unit, though it is composed of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink.
            14For the body does not consist of one part, but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
            18But in fact, God has arranged the members of the body, every one of them, according to His design. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

          • There is a saying that says, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." So maybe you have convinced me that youre being is because God has made you to be that way etc. So then, EGW saying that Jesus was highly sociable is just for us to know that as just being a fact for Jesus but not for us, and that even though Jesus was highly sociable was not to say that it is for us to be that way at all either. So maybe what you are trying to convince me of here is that being an introvert is like being an Asian or a Mexican, or British?


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