Snyder, George L Snyder, Lenore Snyder, God, ethics, morals, religion

The Elephant Speaks
One Man’s Elephant book II

What should I do?

God, What should I do? How do I become close to You?

And, God speaks to me:

          “When you do that which is good, that which is My will; then you become better. You become close to Me. You become strong.

          “When you do that which is wrong, that which is not My will; then you become worse. You separate yourself from Me. You become weak.

          “When you neglect that which is good, that which is My will; then you become less than you were. You distance yourself from Me. You lose strength.

          “When you avoid that which is wrong, that which is not My will; then you become more than you were. You move closer to Me. You gain strength.

            Marcus Aurelius said that whatever you do or do not do, makes you either better or worse. Everything you do or do not do, changes you. Everything is important in your relationship with God. Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome a hundred years after Christ. Read his writings: Meditations. There are many similarities with the writings of Confucius. There are many similarities with the teachings of Jesus.

            You create your own Heaven by moving closer to God. You make your own Hell by separating yourself from God. Are you building your heaven or are you building your hell?

            Remember, it is not only the things you do but also the things you do not do.

            Remember, it is not only the good things, but also the bad things that you do or do not do.

            We have put controls, interlocks, sensors, and other protection devices into our machines to protect us from harm due to their operation. We put air-bags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes, etc., in our automobiles to protect us from things that may go wrong. Some of them even protect us from our own stupidity. We do not wish our machines to be dangerous to us. Perhaps this was best presented by a scientist who wrote science fiction: Dr. Isaac Asimov. His first law of robotics is:

            “A robot may not harm a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

            Should we not expect ourselves to behave as well as that?

            Should we desire machines to follow this law but not expect to follow it ourselves?

            When we do not act to help those who need, we fail. We have a mind that can rationalize. Do not rationalize away your responsibilities. We have the knowledge of good and evil that we gained from the Garden of Eden. We need to do better. We know better. If not, then it was a waste of Adam’s time and effort to give us this great gift.

            When we do not act, then we distance ourselves from God. One of the definitions of Hell is separation from God.

            When we do act to help others, then we grow closer to God. One of the definitions of Heaven is closeness to God.

            Live your faith. All of us must live our faith. If you do not live your faith, then get out of there. Go find a faith you can live. Get out of there because no matter what you think God is, you are not pleasing in God’s sight. If you cannot live the faith you profess, find a faith that is real to you. There is some way to interact with God. Find that way and live it.

            Call yourself what you will, Priest, Rabbi, Imam, Faqih, Mullah, Caliph, Pastor, Bishop, Pope, etc., your responsibility is to live your religion. Notice that here I did not say live your faith. I said live your religion. All people need to live their faith, but leaders must also live their religion.

            Call yourself what you will, church board, deacons, elders, leaders, enlightened ones, managers, etc., your requirement is to be responsible to the membership of your church, parish, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc., in all your actions, all your decisions, all your behavior. You are the servant of the membership.

            It makes no difference whether you received your office through election, appointment, attrition, whatever. Even if you were directly appointed by God. You must serve through love and responsibility.

And God speaks to me:

            “You cannot serve Me without serving My people. You cannot serve My people without serving Me.

            You must realize that you are not God. Every time you say something and claim it is God’s word, be careful. In that way, you become another great leader like Jim Jones. You will dictate to your people and tell them what to do. You will tell them what and how much to give. You will build a monument to yourself with money that should have gone for God’s work. You will eventually kill your members. It might not be with cyanide laced Flavor Aid as Jim Jones did, but you will attempt to control and kill their souls. The monument may not be a town in Guyana, but might be a crystal cathedral somewhere else. The monument might be no more than an addition to your church building. It is still abuse of the trust given you. It is an abuse of power. It is not love.

Look up Jim Jones to see what he did.

And God speaks to me:

            “Be careful you do not mistake your words for Mine. Sometimes you hear My words, sometimes you do not hear My words. Sometimes you hear words from another. Those words may or may not be My will.

            If your church truly needs a building addition, a larger place, more room to give more services; then and only then spend the money. But, do not make it your project. Make it the project of all the membership. Topmost in your mind needs to be the fact that there are many needs toward which God’s money should go. There are always those more needy than you.

            The responsibility is to spend every penny with proper forethought. Do not just spend. Think about it and decide if it is needed then look for good value. Any purchase needs to be carefully measured between need and value. If there is a member with knowledge about the proposed project, use them. If you have someone who is willing to paint the wall, why hire a painter? Include the membership in decision making and they will be more loyal. Will someone be loyal to your specific congregation if you do not consult them in their speciality? If they feel they have to charge for the advice, then that tells you something too. Be careful. You are spending God’s money.

And God speaks to me:

            “The resources you find in your hands are not yours. They are Mine. Use your best judgement when doing My work.

            If you are a religious leader, look at the people you serve. If at least half of them do not live better than you, do not have a better house or car, then you have too much. Take that excess and find a way to help the poorest of the poor. Take that excess and find a way to use it to serve God. Do not eat steak and caviar while even one of your people has only a spoonful of rice. Or perhaps nothing to eat at all. How can you justify wearing an expensive suit when even one of your people has only rags to wear? How can you justify an expensive car when even one of your people has to walk? How can you justify expensive shoes when even one of your people has no shoes at all?

            Your people are not limited to those who worship in the same place you do.

            All that wealth and power will be carried on your back when you try to swim across that final river to heaven. Be sure it is not too heavy. Be sure there is not so much that it will pull you under.

            If you are a real leader, you will do as Jesus would have you do. If you are a Christian, you cannot tolerate knowing there is even one who needs. You cannot bear the idea of anyone suffering. You will do all in your power to improve the lot of those less blessed. You will examine every penny spent and ask yourself if it could be used better in the service of God. Then when you find a need, do not help openly. Give in secret. Make the one who benefits look around and wonder where it came from. Make them look at each of their acquaintances wondering if they might be this wonderful person who helped. I remember when someone helped me secretly. I did not know who my benefactor was. I made guess after guess. One result was that I was extra nice to everyone just in case it was them. I was nice to everyone and therefore in that small way I paid back a portion. I took that gift that helped me and it echoed throughout. It grew through my behavior. When you help in secret, your gift multiplies. That person, when they see one in need, will be more willing to help. Then that person may also give. In that way you can multiply God’s gifts to you.

            Doesn’t this apply to city, state, and all governmental leaders? Not just religious leaders?

Did I say that this is for those who are leaders?

What about the rest of us?

Should we all not practice this behavior?

If you did, wouldn’t that bring you closer to God?

             This is one of those things that brings you closer to God. If you neglect this, it will move you farther from God. Do you want to move closer to God? Closer to heaven? The other option should frighten you.

By their fruits you shall know them.

Are you just an empty gong?

If you do not take to the water, how can you claim to be a duck?

Just saying “quack, quack” does not make you a duck.

Just saying “I am a Christian” does not make you a Christian.

Faith without works is empty.

Faith without works is not faith.

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