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True greatness 
6th-Jan-2006 10:55 am
Dilbert
One aspect that has not been much talked about is how UBF creates a spirit of hierarchical thinking and competition even among the “shepherds”. Often repentance for “competitive thinking” was mentioned in the testimonies... [continued in comment section]
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6th-Jan-2006 10:03 am (UTC)
One aspect that has not been much talked about is how UBF creates a spirit of hierarchical thinking and competition even among the “shepherds”. Often repentance for “competitive thinking” was mentioned in the testimonies. I remember one testimony from a Korean member. He told a story how he one day found a list of the shepherds in the room of his chapter leader. The problem was that it was not an ordinary list, but a kind of “ranking.” That member said he was very offended because he did not have the first rank and that he thought about leaving UBF because of that. Later he said he repented for not being humble. It was interesting that he could see his own problem, but the problem that leaders keep an account of the rank of members was not mentioned or criticized by him. In testimonies, only your own problems may be mentioned and repented for, but never systemic problems, problems of the organization or of leaders; not even in a friendly and constructive manner. You may say “a testimony is not the right place for this” – but there is no other opportunity for members in UBF to utter or discuss such concerns publicly (which is a systemic problem of UBF again). Anyway, I think it is a fact that UBF fosters a spirit of competition and at the same time lets people feel guilty for being competitive. The UBF leaders are in the end those with the highest level of competitive thinking and the lowest level of guilt feelings – not because they are less guilty, but because they have a less sensitive conscience and less humility than the ordinary member.

Take the story of John and James striving for the highest position in the Kingdom of heavens. The interesting thing is how UBF interprets such teachings in the Bible. They don’t say that striving for greatness is bad; instead they say the only problem is that we want to become great in “wordly” or “human” terms, but we shall strive to become great in “spiritual” terms.

There are two problems with this: First, it undermines Jesus’ teaching that the striving for greatness itself is bad. Second, even if striving for greatness in a spiritual way would be good, UBF has its own definition of “spiritual”. Somebody is spiritual if he works much for UBF and if he has many fruits in terms of UBF, i.e. sheep. Somebody is even more spiritual in UBF if he is a leader, i.e. if he does not work but lets others work for him. But real spirituality is not measured in terms of the fruits of the spirit such as love and joy and in the end can only be seen and ranked by God. According to Jesus, we shall not give offerings openly and pray so that others see us (and thus could judge our spirituality). The real “rank of spirituality” will be only revealed in heaven. Those people where you can “see” the rank of spiritually on earth (such as “Mother” Barry) are those who are usually lowest in heaven is the teaching of Jesus.

So UBF ends up not with the teaching of Jesus, but with teaching exactly the thing Jesus had warned of – trying to become greater than others. Note that John and James did not strive for worldly greatness either – that was not their problem. The problem was the same as in UBF: They did not understand what “spiritual” means (what the spirit of the Kingdom of Heavens is) and they wanted to be better and greater than others. Could be a great teaching for UBF, but UBF turns it upside down.
6th-Jan-2006 10:04 am (UTC)
The UBF buzzword for this aberrant teaching is “True Greatness.” I.e. they teach that “worldly” or “human” greatness is bad, but striving for greatness in terms of UBF is “true” greatness which is good. Example: http://www.washingtonubf.org/BibleMaterials/Mark/2001/mark9cmsg.htm

There is an unintentionally funny but very revealing passage:

“No one ever great started at the top. They usually started at the very bottom. When Missionary Sarah Barry went to Korea, she went as a humble servant and put the needs of Korean students before her own needs. She didn’t even marry because she was more concerned about the lives of Korean students. Now, over 40 years later she is recognized as Mother Barry. She is a mother to all and greatest of all UBF women because she in the beginning was the very last and servant of all.”

They unintentionally admit that there is a development: In the beginning, Ms. Barry was humble, but then she was puffed up. So do they teach we need only be humble in the beginning or what? Do they teach we should get a reward on earth in terms of recognition?

There is another contradiction in this: UBF usually teaches that UBF members need to marry other UBF members in order to better serve world mission as a “house church.” But in the case of Ms. Barry they teach you can better serve world mission if you are alone. Why then don’t they take this as an example for the other leaders? Why don’t they draw the conclusion that all the other leaders are not really interested in world mission because they marry?

Please also note how Ms. Barry is called the “greatest of all UBF women,” but on the other side only of all UBF *women*. Of course, she can never be greater than Samuel Lee even though he did not give up marriage.
6th-Jan-2006 10:17 am (UTC)
Another example how the spirit of competition is fostered among leaders is through the "mission reports" on international conferences. These reports are always centered around the achievements of the leaders. Or the articles in the newsletters. Or the fact that leaders need to send their "numbers" to the headquarters. Of course, every leader wants to look better than the other.

With other words, members are often rewarded with public praise at conferences, in Sunday sermons, in the newsletter etc. They like to mention in their sermons how one member is "greater" than others to puff his or her ego up. I remember that even from our Sunday sermons. Of course, after being puffed up, members are sometimes also humilitated again before they have the rank of a leader.

The servantship of UBF members is really spoilt by the fact that they always speculate on a kind of reward - either by becoming appreciated, respected, honored inside the organization, or by being rewarded in heaven. Then it's not so much the love towards God and the neighbour that drives the people, but the desire for a reward.

Einstein once said (I dont remember the wording) that he doesn't like Christian (or religious?) people because they do not really do good things for the sake of doing good things, but because they are hoping for a reward. At least what concerns UBF, I often had the same impression. At least the teaching was very much that way. Everything in UBF is always "goal oriented", the things themselves have little value, even things like the truth. (As Peter Chang (Bonn) once said "It is not important whether the story is true, but whether it is effective.")
6th-Jan-2006 10:51 am (UTC)
I wrote this before I read human12's comment on the testimony titled "My Very Great Reward" which also is a good example how UBF is reward-centered.

At least the author wrote that her reward is God. I do believe she is not corrupt. If she is *really* searching for God, and God only, He will open her eyes for the problems of UBF one day.
6th-Jan-2006 11:59 am (UTC) - Just a comparison
When I read your ermarks about rewards-centeredness, something erally of "this world", recognition, marriage etc. are all human rewards, as such of "the world".

I thought of this precious little hymn:


If I Gained the World but Lost the Savior
(Anna Olander, 1861-1939)


If I gained the world but lost the Savior,
Were my life worth living for a day?
Could my yearning heart find rest and comfort
In the things that soon must pass away?
If I gained the world, but lost the Savior,
Would my gain be worth the life-long strife?
Are all earthly pleasures worth comparing
For a moment with a Christ-filled life?

Had I wealth and love in fullest measure,
And a name revered both far and near,
Yet no hope beyond, no harbor waiting,
Where my storm-tossed vessel I could steer;
If I gained the world but lost the Savior,
Who endured the cross and died for me,
Could then all the world afford a refuge,
Whither, in my anguish, I might flee?

O, what emptiness! – without the Savior
'Mid the sins and sorrows here below!
And eternity, how dark without Him!
Only night and tears and endless woe!
What, though I might live without the Savior,
When I come to die, how would it be?
O to face the valley's gloom without Him!
And without Him all eternity!

O the joy of having all in Jesus!
What a balm the broken heart to heal!
Ne'er a sin so great, but He'll forgive it,
Nor a sorrow that He does not feel!
If I have but Jesus, only Jesus,
Nothing else in all the world beside –
O then everything is mine in Jesus;
For my needs and more He will provide.


Especially the last four lines of every stanza seem to contrast very starkly with what UBF teaches.
UBF teaching "I did get, I will get, I have gained..." and that with "honour, recognition, title, spouse, job, calling, mission, greatness" or whatnot

Christian living, as reflected by this hymn:
"If I have but Jesus, only Jesus,
Nothing else in all the world beside

O then everything is mine in Jesus;
For my needs and more He will provide."
6th-Jan-2006 12:30 pm (UTC) - Re: Just a comparison
Especially look at the following lines of the hymn:

Could my yearning heart find rest and comfort
In the things that soon must pass away?


Will not the honour and recognition, as well as all things UBF gives you "soon pass away", latest at the moment of death?
Ex-members have found that those things can pass away as quickly as one steps out of the UBF door, since the honour and recognition you receive there is conditional on being "a member in good standing".

Had I wealth and love in fullest measure,
Come to think of it, we know how financial well-being is often used in UBF as alleged "proof" that God is working though UBF, and we also have seen how people like Peter Chang make sure everyone "loves" them (I heard testimonies where people repented of "not loving the Servant of God").

And a name revered both far and near,
You have alluded to this how UBF states those things in their messages about the leaders.


When I come to die, how would it be?
I would sincerely ask all UBF members to ponder this question seriously before the Lord. On the day of judgment, we will all lay open our lives and we will have to give an account.
What will we say to Him? "The leader said I'm exemplary" - "They praised me in their sogams", "I could do everything for the glory of God", "I served World Mission", "I did great deeds in your name" - things that end at death, or at least in this age.
Or will it be "I have lived in Your presence, You are my Saviour, you were in that life and will be in eternity future, I cannot imagine spending a single day not in Your presence!" ?

The conclusion of the hymn is clear:
"If I have but Jesus, only Jesus,
Nothing else in all the world beside –
O then everything is mine in Jesus"


So much about all those worries about achieving greatness, gaining recognition, having many sheep and whatnotever UBF tells you that you "need".

Yes, as Christians, we need to examine ourselves if what we expect from our lives is "of this age" and whether it distracts us from God.
But in the end, we must lay everything down at the Cross, even our titles, our "sheep", our "mission" and the recognition we received. We need to realize that in Jesus, we have only Jesus, nothing else in all the world beside.
Not something instead of worldly things, not something "spiritual" superceding our worldly desires, as long as we have something other than Jesus, we await night, tears and endless woe.

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