REMEMBER THOSE WHO ADMINISTERED YOU
“Remember your former leaders, who spoke God’s message to you. Think back on how they lived and died, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7 GNB)
In reading this verse, what immediately springs to our mind are those by whom we were administered — the Messenger of God in these last days, Brother Felix Y. Manalo, who administered the Iglesia Ni Cristo for almost half a century, as well as Brother Eraño G. Manalo, who administered the Church for about 46 years before he was laid to rest by God. They zealously and devotedly made known to us the words of God. They were instrumental for us to learn the pure words to which we now faithfully adhere. We did not have an ounce of doubt in their election as leaders placed by God. We never doubted that they led us and guided us in true service to Him because of God’s numerous testimonies or prophecies regarding His Messenger and His message. Through God’s guidance, they were able to purely and properly administer His nation. The Church, which was once lowly and insignificant in the eyes of man, reached a glorious stature, admired and respected throughout the world. Every member could confidently and proudly say to anyone, “I am a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.”
That is why we cannot forget, and we must not forget, those who administered us. We remember the days of their births and even their death anniversaries. Moreover, what we must remember more than anything is “how they lived and died”. Let the whole Church remember their efforts by adhering to all the regulations. Let us remember how the ministers, workers and officers were once able to enforce all the rules and regulations of the Church, whether it is pertaining to the Ministry, Finance, Secretariat and others. Instead of our current feeling of being choked by an Administration that is “too strict”, we used to be joyful, and our peace of mind prevailed. We were once sure that everything the Administration was doing was to maintain holiness and cleanliness of the Church. Everything was done to ascertain that we would not lose our hope for salvation. They also made sure that every step they took served as a good example for the Church, that even when there was no word uttered from their lips, they were still able to teach how to live the right way.
Our leaders were the prime example of true and good watchmen of the flock, as illustrated in Ezekiel 33:7-9 AMP: “So you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his perversity and iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his evil way and he does not turn from his evil way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”
This is the reason that the Administration emphasized to us about the complete renewal of life. This is also the reason why they never consented for anyone, especially ministers, to commit evil, especially if it will do damage to the Church. If corruption or evil acts would even arise, they would immediately suppress it. We could say that the Church was “closely guarded”, that it would not be touched or affected by evil. They did not allow evil to reign because “Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.” (James 1:15 AMP)
“Imitate their faith in God”
Let us remember and imitate the strong faith the Messenger of God had in the promises of what God can do. This is why he never budged in his conviction, teaching the words of God, despite the many obstacles he encountered. Persecution was on every side. Opponents from different faiths ganged up on him to try and stop the work that was just beginning. False ministers even emerged and opposed the teachings and endangered the faith of some. Nevertheless, he bravely defended the Church.
The same faith and conviction was seen from Brother Eraño G. Manalo. He boldly and wisely faced the new challenges of the time, like how can the Church overseas grow without sacrificing the teachings and regulations of the Church in the face of the strong influence of other cultures? Just like in the time of the Messenger, there were also persecutions. There were also ministers and brethren who opposed the teachings, like Lucio Silvestre and Melanio Gabriel, who tried to set up their own religious group. Before Brother Eraño passed away, he also battled a secret movement that was called “new generation” (New Gens), whose purpose was to change the procedures of the Church.
Above all, how can we not remember the profound love they showed for the Church? How can we forget the people who fully sacrificed for us, even though they did not personally know many of us? How can we forget the worship services they officiated, which were always overflowing with blessings, from the beginning until the very end? That is why we went home, our souls nourished, filled with hope, preparing us for any challenges we would face in life. How can we forget the ministers and workers who advised us in order to edify us? Or the opportunities they gave for us to change when we were overcome by weakness? That even when there were times they were angry with us, they did not abhor or hate us, but only showed the intense desire for us to change?