|Volume 20 Number 10 October 2018||
Ernest S. Underwood
As the basis of this article, let us introduce two passages of Scripture. First, “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” (Psalms 142:4). David’s enemies were on every hand, and there seemed to be no one who really cared about him. Second, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The apostle Peter gave comfort and solace to those who were undergoing severe persecution by telling them of One who cares.
The chasm dividing these two attitudes is almost unfathomable. How many times in our lives have we been disappointed by the lack of interest in us that others have expressed. When we needed comfort, understanding or just needed to have someone close by to whom we could turn, their attitude of “us four and no more” crushed us. We think of the prodigal in the “far country” who, before wasting his substance in riotous living, was surrounded by many fair-weather friends. However, when he had “spent all…no man gave unto him” (Luke 15:11-16). We stand with the prophet Jeremiah as he observed the misery and degradation of the inhabitants of his beloved city Jerusalem. The enemies were at the gates; the hunger was so severe that “the hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Lamentations 4:10). Amidst this tumult and sorrow, the prophet wailed, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12). Did anyone really care?
Perhaps it would be good at this point to engage in a bit of self-examination on this subject. Do we really care? Do parents really care for their children when they neglect their spiritual education or when they fail or refuse to discipline them? Many children have about everything they want, and yet, they have precious little of what they need to make them good moral people and persons who are prepared for a life of service to God—a life that ends in a realistic hope of dwelling in Heaven. Such parents should read again, if they have ever bothered to read it the first time, the statement of Jesus. Hear His words: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Have you, Dear Reader, stood with Jesus as He overlooked the city of Jerusalem and in sorrow cried, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Do we really care about the lost of the world? Some heartily sing the great missionary songs—“Ring Out the Message,” “Far and Near,” “The Gospel Is for All,” “Here Am I, Send Me,” “Ready to Suffer,” “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” and many, many more—yet never go, help to send or even live in such a way that the lost can be drawn to Christ by one’s example.
Do those who teach or preach, whether publicly or from house to house, really care when their main interest and goal is either numerical or financial growth, worldly power, prestige and popularity? To reach such goals, they are willing to compromise God’s precious Word when they think within themselves that such is necessary to attain their desires. Peter identified such ones as those who “bring in damnable heresies…and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Peter 2:1, 3). Any person who would teach or purposely allow another to believe a false doctrine is one who cares nothing for a lost soul.
Is there anyone who cares? We can thank our Great God that there is an affirmative answer to the question. In the great Golden Text of the Bible we are told that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). This Son later said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Let the world hate us; let our enemies lay siege upon us; let our friends draw back from us or forsake us. There is One who cares! Through His inspired apostle, God has encouraged us to cast our cares and woes upon Him because He truly does care. The words of Moses as he blessed the tribes of Israel should stir our hearts. “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27).
Yes, there is One who cares. Do we care enough about God and His Son to be obedient to the Gospel? If we want the care and protection of those everlasting arms, we must “obey from the heart” the Gospel of God. Jesus put it very simply. He said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). What is your answer? May each of us determine that from this day forward we will be one who truly cares for others as well as for ourselves.
Let’s Get Together
I like the account in Genesis 2:18-22.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
One has to wonder, did God not know that Adam was alone? Did God think just making one human was enough, only to realize that He needed to create two? Well, of course God doesn’t make mistakes. Adam needed to understand the value of another creation like him. After naming the animals, Adam noticed that he was alone; this made the creation of Eve all the more special to him.
God has never expected His people to be alone. Naturally, this is the case with marriage, but the same is true in the spiritual realm. Have you ever wondered why Jesus established His church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47)? The word “church” means “a calling out, especially a religious meeting.” The church constitutes the people, not the physical building. I’ve encountered people that said they could stay home and worship God alone on Sunday. You can’t do this and be called a church. God knew that we needed each other and ordained that His people meet on the first day of every week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2) in order to be built up spiritually as we offer our worship to God.
When people forsake or ignore the worship of the church, they are neglecting the blessings that God designed for us. Take note of Hebrews 10:24-25. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Well, one might argue they meet with the saints on Sunday morning, and that’s good enough. Sunday nights, Wednesday nights and other times outside of Sunday morning aren’t all that important, some claim. Really? The first-century church took advantage of every time they could get together. “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46). As the church, we need to be together! This is God’s design!
[Editor’s Note: The basic meaning of ekklesia, translated “church,” is “properly, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). “Church” (assembly) doesn’t happen apart from other Christians but is the result of assembling together (1 Corinthians 11:17-18, 20, 33-34; 14:26). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]