The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God. The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Childhood Lost 11

THE APOSTLE

Speaking strictly for myself, I probably could have been enticed to forego the occasion. Usually when portentous declarations were proclaimed from Pasadena, they involved either a demand for more money, a diminution of the already short time we sinners had left to sin before God returned and the righteous came to power, or, as was usually the case, a pleasant mixture of the two. With all that in mind, I (along with much of Christendom) was totally unprepared for the glad tidings emanating from California that following Saturday.

Services that day started off like they always did: stand, sit, stand, sit. The customary ream of uninteresting announcements was read, and then the sermon began. No portentous declarations were forth coming, however.

It was a rough hewn sermon, the kind one usually heard when the ministry attempted, as they often did, to facilitate the mal-positioned copulation of world events with biblical prophecy. But that was not what the dissertation was about.

It was strictly New Testament in reference, regarding the (heretofore) inconsequential subject of pastoral hierarchy within the church. As such, it careened through the four gospels and lurched through Acts, Romans, Galatians and Corinthians, before grinding to a shuddering halt in Ephesians.

As sermons went, it appeared to have gone nowhere with bewildering rapidity. It virtually ignored the impending demise of the world, made no mention what ever of that great madam, the Roman Catholic Church and its Protestant prostitute daughters, nor were there any allusions to lakes of fire or marauding bears. From the stand point of anyone who had come just to get the crap scared out of them it was dud!

The sermon ended, much as it had begun, on a long drawn out note of nothing. The minister then folded his notes, closed up his bible with a decisive slap of the hand and leaned forward on the podium.

"Herbert Armstrong," he declared "is a simple man." He had neither sought nor desired the staggering burden of Church rulership, but God (always unpredictable) had selected him. There was no doubt (he continued) that Herbert Armstrong was God's chosen servant. He was a humble man with simple tastes and as such was highly uncomfortable with the adoration and accolade accorded him as he jetted across the United States and often around the globe on his private airplane. That long list of titles behind his name, Founder, President, Chancellor and Editor-in-Chief, to name but a few, were forced on him by the ministry and a majority of the called and chosen who wished to honor him, and thus he allowed them to be appended to his name... for the sake of others.

And now a new title was about to be conferred on this modest man, we were informed. In the face of overwhelming popular demand, Herbert had reluctantly agreed, for the sake of the Church, to be ordained an Apostle with all the privileges and prerogatives attendant thereto.

The called and chosen, most of them at any rate, arose as one, breaking into an emotional storm of cheers and tears which shook the grange hall windows and rattled the doors. The pastor attempted in vain to quell the unseemly disturbance (so out of character for God's children), but it was an ill fated effort which died young; the faithful were having none of it. After all, it was not every day that a congregation found itself in possession of its very own apostle.

When some semblance of sanity was finally restored, a taped message from the newly anointed was played over the PA system. "Greetings brethren," an apostolic voice boomed out (just prior to launching into a thirty minute history of the God-inspired life that it, along with its owner, had led).

The voice then related how it had neither desired nor sought the high and honorable office it now held. It had never aspired to be even a preacher, much less an apostle, but God, (working in mysterious ways his wonders to perform) had seen qualities in it that it had not seen in itself.

Just what those qualities were, went unstated, and thus were largely a matter of conjecture but, this did not stop after-worship fellowshippers from hazarding guesses as to just what it was that set such a blessed creature apart from and above everybody else.

His enormous stockpile of personal humility obviously played a large role in the apostolic selection process. After all, God would not bestow that much power and glory upon an average individual, for it might go to one's head. And soon he'd be living like a king, ordering the construction of ornate edifices, flying around the world in his private jet with valets and chefs, dining from solid gold plates and quaffing wine from golden goblets! No, one had to be a meek and nearly spotless lamb for the Great Shepherd to make use of it in so holy a manner. And most men simply had not grown enough in the power and spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ to be worthy of such a high calling.

"Where does God find such men?" That was the question on many lips as the flock shook their heads in solemn wonder and trooped out of church that day.


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