All Worker’s Meeting
November 5, 2016
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
We are work-ers in the kingdom of God. We have work to do; we have a mission. Somehow, admittedly, we have lost sight of our objective. What is our work about?
It is our attempt as leadership to refocus our attention to that which we are supposed to accomplish – our destination. We are coming back to the heart of the gospel. It is not all about ‘me’ and ‘my heavenly share of glory.’ It not just about ‘me’ getting there because if we get there alone, we are pushed back. We have to wait for our brothers and sisters and together, we get to where we are supposed to go. It is all for the people, not just for some. It is about us participating.
We are workers, but the work is not really ours. It is God’s work and we participate in it. There is really only one work; one mission; and we participate in the mission. God created the world and the showcase of that creation, which is very good, was man. Man was made manager of all the earth. Sin came and we failed; death came into the world through sin; and what does God do? He simply, naturally showed the goodness of His creation.
I am glad that I am one of those He chose first so that I can participate in the restoration of all the rest of creation. Creation is good. Our work is to participate in the restoration process. See your work as a whole. We are all involved in the business in the restoration of all things. We participate in this Divine work as partakers of His divine nature. His goodness is in us naturally.
We help restore man so that he also, in turn, can help in the work of restoring not only man because man is restoring all the rest of creation. I believe that our calling as children of God includes the stewardship of creation – the environment – and I must confess that I got born-again in this, even to animals. It is not for ‘me and my salvation.’ We used to think that our mission is to witness to people to get their souls to heaven. This is a poor gospel proclamation. We are to restore God’s creation back to its goodness, and it involves first humanity. God has to work with man first so that man can help others in rebuilding God’s creation.
It is not about individually making it to the finish line. If we make it to the finish line alone, we will be sent back. We don’t obtain the promise without the rest of our brothers and sisters. Hebrew 11 says this. We participate in the work of the second Adam because the first Adam failed as manager of the earth. The second Adam is restoring everything so that we could go back to the goodness of Eden.
We are work-ers, and we don’t just work in our little environment. If one is in Media as a cameraman, he just doesn’t shoot a video of activities and he is done. The cameraman does this because in his mind, he is working for the restoration of the kingdom of God. He is working to proclaim the gospel, and this is his part. In whatever ministry work you are, you are involved with others and you proclaim the gospel together with the other ministries. Each of us is a part of the rest. Each of us is connected to each other. We are all in the business of restoring.
In the process of restoration, the Church will have a Discipleship Summit. Our mission is what we call incarnational. We don’t just witness to others, give them a tract saying that they have to be born-again, and then, we don’t have anything to do with them anymore. Incarnation is leaving your comfort zone and being involved in the lives of those who need your help. You stay for as long as it takes to get them restored. It is very different from crusades, which is not wrong. However, in crusades, there is one good preacher, and thousands will come to accept Jesus and those involved would have nothing to do with their lives anymore.
We sing, “Thank You, O my Father, for giving us Your Son and leaving Your Spirit until the work on earth is done.” Jesus said, “I will be with you until the end of the age.” Incarnational is sharing the plight or the problem of those we minister to. Jesus did not stay in heaven and just threw to us the Bible saying, “Follow that and your life will be well.” No, He came down to us, experienced our temptations, our struggles, and our problems for Himself so that He can say, “I’ve been there. I have done that.” The truth is, He is still there and He is going through that.
We cannot say, “Where is the Lord in all that I am undergoing?” The Lord is with us! He doesn’t leave us and He will be here until the work is done and until we are all restored. Before Jesus ascended, He brought solutions to our problems and this comes from knowing His Father.
Our mission is to know God and to make Him known. We cannot make God known until we first we know Him. Mark 3:14 says, “Jesus chose the twelve so that He can be with them, and so that He can send them out to preach or to proclaim the gospel.” Before you can proclaim the gospel, you need to be with Jesus first; learn from Him; experience Him; catch Him; see Him; hear from Him; live with Him; walk with Him; then, you are equipped to talk about His agenda of restoring man and everything else.
In our Filipino culture, when someone dies, we tell the bereaved ones, “Nakikiramay kami.” Nakikiramay ba talaga tayo? Do we really feel what they feel? Jesus’ incarnation put Him in our shoes. He not only grieves with the bereaved ones, but He helps them to rise up above the situation. Jesus had no sin, but yet, he reached out to the sinners. He got His hands dirty, scrubbing the ‘vandalism’, which is sin, all off the face of man who is the image of God and the bearer of His goodness. He lifted him up from the ash heap and restored him.
Work is not individual. We do this together. It is said that there is no ‘I’ in team work. The ‘I’ in team work is in the hole of the letter A. It is a team effort; we work in harmony. When the Great Scorer pens your name, He writes not whether you won or lost individually, but how you played the game. Team effort requires showing others how to do the task that everybody may reach the finish line.
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel to all men, and if you have to, use words.” Show others how it is done, not putting down others if they can’t cope up with us. This is how we get to the finish line together. The destination is not more important than the journey. The fellowship is more important than the food. Meal is more important than just grub. Home is more important than house. The work of the Church is more important than Church work.
Many times, my wife confronts me when we are doing a family activity. I get uptight because of schedule and other things. She would say, “We’re supposed to be having quality time together and you are destroying it by looking at your watch and getting distracted.”
Hebrews 11:39-40 says, “No one will obtain the promise without the rest of the body of Christ.” God designed it this way. Not only will we get the promise with all of us together, but we will obtain something better if we wait for everyone else. You may be successful and you may find yourself alone at the top. This is not better; it is better if you can share your joy with the rest.
The theme from the movie “Lilo and Stitch” is “Ohana.” It means family, which means that nobody gets left behind because we are all one family. We are not individual ministries; we hold hands with them.
The theme for the next year’s Liturgical Church Calendar is: Building Up Itself In Love with sub-theme of “Discipleship through the Family”. Building up is not just a concrete building, but building up the body of Christ. We are involved in the process of restoration and we are rebuilding; we are involved in recreation.
God uses the construction of our physical building as a didactic reminder to us that we, ultimately, really, essentially, are involved in building something greater, that is, His body. Blessed be His name when men gather on the property and start clearing out the debris; and when we build, we will create memories and this will be historic. We are in the middle of history and it is a very good time to be in the kingdom of God right now.
Prepare! Doomsayers say to prepare because the end is near. I would rather say, “Prepare; the beginning is near”. We are looking to the new heavens and the new earth. It is a new beginning where sin is no more; death is no more; and the fall of man will not happen anymore. We are about to begin. Prepare for that beginning.
As your Bishop, I am very, very thankful for each one of you, servants of the Most High God. This comes from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all that you do. In fact, for many of you, I don’t know how you do what you do. Each of you has gifts and I take my hat off to you. I appreciate your work and God does, too. Don’t ever grow weary of doing good and in continuing your ministry. Your work is not in vain at all. Let us continue to work together!