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Chile critics should
chill out and cheer

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Chile critics should
chill out and cheer

by Reginald Killingley
The writer attends the Church of God Big Sandy and formerly pastored several churches in Latin America.

BIG SANDY, Texas--In response to Leon Walker's riposte to the UCG's Luker-Rhodes letter about the Chilean family that runs a day-care facility and the way in which they, as business owners, have decided to deal with governmental regulations of their industry, vis-à-vis Sabbath and holy-day observance:

Brother Leon, leave them alone! Churches should not be in the business of micromanaging members' lives. Surely this is a lesson that should have been learned a long time ago.

With you, not over you

Paul made the point in 2 Corinthians 1:24 ("It is not that we have control of your faith: rather we are working with you for your happiness") 20 centuries ago, so isn't it time church hierarchs learned to emulate his modus operandi?

Regrettably, the wisdom of this approach seems to have been ignored in the Chilean situation. In fact, the UCG and Mr. Walker seem to be battling for control rather than seeking to promote happiness as Paul would have done.

Step back, please

Preachers should by all means teach the principles of Christianity and offer advice if asked, but then step back and let individual members choose how best to apply the principles in their own life situations. They don't need "administrative decisions from church leaders." They are adults.

If you don't allow people to decide how to apply these guidelines for themselves, when will they ever learn to stand on their own two feet? And how will they ever be able to teach others if they have never fully learned to take responsibility themselves?

If you don't allow people to make their own choices, you make them perpetually dependent and stunt their growth.

Busybodies aplenty

"Ah," some will say, "we are just trying to protect them for we fear they will make mistakes."

Why, of course they will! So what? That's how we learn. When we first learn to walk, we stumble and fall, yet eventually we learn to walk and then to run well and with few mishaps.

"Oh," some will object, "but others will judge."

So? There will always be busybodies who should be occupied removing the beam in their own eye rather than focusing on the splinter in somebody else's (Matthew 7:3). Other than feeling superior and self-righteous, what good have nosey parkers ever accomplished?

Here in the real world

"Well, we're just trying to protect the flock," others argue. "You see, others will be emboldened by their liberalism."

What liberalism? We're not talking here about people who reject the Sabbath or holy days. We're really rehashing the old argument about how the Sabbath should be observed.

Remember how many in Jesus' day condemned Him and His disciples for the way they kept the Sabbath? (Matthew 12:2, 10; Mark 2:24; 3:2). Some things never change.

In the end it's easy to judge--and to condemn--others. But have you ever had to face a similar dilemma in real life?

(In Mr. Walker's case, he's been employed by a Sabbatarian church that gave him Sabbaths and holy days off his entire adult life. He's never once had to worry about asking for time off to keep them!)

Peace, be still

So, if you've never been on the battlefield, don't criticize the soldier. The wisest response is to stay quiet.

Remember that it is to Jesus that the Chileans--and all Christians--stand or fall, not to you. They are His servants, not yours (Romans 14:4).

It's easy to be a fault-finding spectator. It's quite otherwise to be out on the field of action, fighting the battle to the best of your ability, making mistakes and falling, but picking yourself up and getting back in there, bloodied and beaten perhaps, but unbowed, giving your best to the fight until the very end.

If you must comment as a spectator, then do so as a supporter, as a helper, as an encourager, in the manner of the flawed but faithful cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews 12:1 who cheer us on to victory through the vicissitudes of the Christian life.

Was Mr. Armstrong a liberal?

As an aside, older readers may recall an administrative decision Herbert Armstrong made some 30 years ago in a case involving compulsory work on the Sabbath.

The government of a West African country required able-bodied males to take part in a trash-cleanup program one Saturday every few months. Those who refused could be jailed.

HWA's ruling? Let them work. He reasoned that this was acceptable since (a) it was only sporadic and (b) the alternative was prison, meaning the man's family would lose its livelihood and end up in the poorhouse.

One wonders what today's UCG conservatives would say if they were reminded of Mr. Armstrong's "liberal" decision.


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