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LOVE AND KINDNESS
TRUTH, VISION AND GRACE
Leadership is not lust; not arbitrariness; no caprice; not bullying; not martinet machinations; not gleaming efficiency glamour, making man machine; not endless talk, nor yet dumb silence; not spates of action, nor yet glimmering inaction. It is far more than these things. Let us examine it and then compare what is found with what is written ... in the Book of the LORD!
1. There is a concept of HIDDEN leadership. In this, the personality is abstracted, the desires are muted, the vision is commuted, and the will of the led is consulted, both consciously and unconsciously, both openly and by little signals. Yet there is a desire for direction, and as far as seems expedient, this is followed.
The trouble here is the art of compromise is in danger of replacing, contaminating or compromising vision, and the concern for corporicity can become preoccupation with people, which however commendable as a heart desire, can be less so when for their sakes, you lose your understanding or commute your objectives - WHEN AND IF they are sound. If not, then it is that which is the problem with your leadership.
2. There is the extreme, INAUDIBLE leadership, in which the actual thoughts of the leader, be he or she president or manager, over sea scouts or in the Forces, are scarcely to be heard. The tones are subdued, or quiet, the manner is brisk, the feeling is action, the action is brief, the rules are prominent. Oppression of personality is at a minimum, it seems, but expression of drive and desire, of vision and the feeling of victory are far off. It is one thing to control personality; it is another to subdue it. It is less than life. It is leaving the brake on, lest you slip.
3. Then there is INVISIBLE leadership. In this, there is such focus on talents, those of others, that it is like a captain looking, looking ever so hard for the best bowler so that his side can win on Saturday. Always, he watches, listens, learns, compares, looks at the field, the enemy and considers how best to KNOW his people and to DEPLOY them, with that knowledge in view, and to consider the best way to match the conflict's onset, and the difficulties thereby.
Here the idea is WIN, and the way is WORK and the modus operandi, is KNOWING YOUR PEOPLE. It has many merits, but the obvious defect is that this concentration can bypass the vision of WHY and in WHAT you want to win, your own contribution, the extent to which your leadership should INSPIRE towards the vision, and lead people to become other and better than they are, thereby.
4. There is, again, the martinet style, in which the fussy, particularistic, pushing province of the 'ruler' is to have MY WORD DONE, small or great, with watchful concern. One recalls from a younger generation, a case where in a governmental situation there was one, in fact a lady, who though far from senior, was always on courses to learn more arts, and whose word to the minutest detail had to be OBEYED. One man was put in a desk in THIS place in some area, and when he was found to have traded or moved in some way to fit some need, this became a major issue. Wrath was aroused, temper spewed, upset loomed, team spirit was compromised, a sense of pettiness prevailed. Here the extreme liability is people manipulation in order to fulfil some philosophical concept of RULE. In view of the fallibility of man and woman, such certitudes and preoccupations can be not only hostile and intrusive, but unrealistic and bloated.
But what of the case mentioned ?
Thus was lost a tenderly developed leadership and a quiet and pleasant camaraderie, which reduced communication, it seems, increased a sense of apartness, put brakes on development and intruded like a wasp into a beautiful garden. As to the leadership: Threats could be used, subtle or more open, criticism was abhorred, progress was commuted into method.
This pathology is always to be avoided, since it is unproductive, and means with mastery becomes a concept more apparent in theory and practice, than vision with grace.
Who does not like to RECEIVE grace, and who finds KINDNESS a curse!
5. Further, there is the dictatorial style. In this, the will, person, personality and desires of the dictator have become paramount, and they virtually constitute the law. 'L'état, c'est moi!' is the famous dictum of Louis XIV, whose action indeed correlated well enough with the thought, as he persecuted the Protestants, abused the Jews and brought on his glory.
If you were God, there would be some justification, indeed complete call for it for He IS sovereign; but this leaves unanswered the question, WHAT IS GOD LIKE! Does He persecute, abuse and exploit, as Louis the Jews; and does he suppress, as Louis the Protestants, so that in masses they took what is commonly acknowledged to have been their skill, industry and honesty, to other lands, not least the U.S.A.! But even so, there is the question of law, to which we will return, stability and equity.
6. Once more, we find the ROUSING style. In this, team spirit, objectives and methods are woven into a tartan of desirable colour and harmony. Frequently, it lacks depth, is harmonious because it is simplistic, maybe wanting PROFIT as the OBVIOUS desideratum and control principle, or PROFILE or some such objective. As to WHY it is desired, this may be IGNORED, suppressed or assumed. The warmth and vibrancy of the leader, carefully cultivated, the manner, sufficiently impervious with bravado and thrust, and the hope of betterment through it, becomes with the depositions in word, a synthesis of superficiality, and a splendour of littleness.
7. But enough. It is time to reflect. What, does it seem, people often and with a REASON want ? They want justice. Few are those who like to be cheated by someone's domineering self-gratification, or the 'good of the Party' which supervenes and suppresses what is just. This desire has importance in Christian apologetics. It is so endemic in man, that the mere suggestion of injustice, in leadership, apart from the maniacal and the merely mordant, will normally bring forth a defence and if necessary a change. The defence may be obscure or even obviously wrong, it may appeal to some alleged 'necessity' of immorality; but it is felt incumbent very often to provide it.
It is the same with kindness. Hard indeed is it to find those who wish that it not be shown, that leadership should not consider their needs, think of their ways and look for methods of implementing that delicate and deft attention to what best can be done for and through each one.
things, desiderata, are merely expressions of the NATURE of man, in the
image of God.
It is for no other reason than this endemic construction, this given nature in creation, that philosophers, though normally involved in the articulation of rebellion (cf. SMR pp. 422Eff., Ch. 3, Ch. 10), and many religious pundits, though often doing just the same, seem to wish to pursue truth at all costs... or at least, at no small cost. They may sell it for popularity, trade it in for numerical importance and so on, but the thrust and the understanding of others for it, is frequently, the truth. As it comes near, they may withdraw, confused because caught in their own priorities, which then eclipse this one!
Yet, and yet ... they would desire it. Often they 'find' that the truth is that there is no truth, a flat self-contradiction, and so continue to draw many for whom confusion is the best anodyne (cf. SMR Ch. 3). However, as we see in Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6, and 7, as in SMR and Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch. 16, for example, truth is not only available, but manifest, and has manifested itself in an all-comprehending magnificence which there and there alone, leaves nothing in doubt, no complexity unresolved, no contradictions left (cf. SMR Ch. 5).
These things arise not from nothing, nor from ferocity, but from the derivation of man from the God who CONSTITUTES truth , and for whom justice is the expression of His creativity, His nature (cf. Ch. 4 above, Repent or Perish Ch. 3, SMR Chs. 1, 10, Little Things Ch. 10, Repent or Perish Ch. 16). There is the consequence. These things move in man with considerable force, latent and patent desire. They call him, create a yearning in him, a desire, a thought for it and ... yet they are often discarded, like a sword which is heavy, though it be sharp. It pierces to the heart of many, who therefore protect their hearts, and do not realise that truth liberates, and God heals (Isaiah 61:1ff.).
Thus the pathologies of oppression, dictation, deceit, these appear to an almost universal detestation, often allayed by profit, tempered by lust and ignored for the sake of some nostrum, in which the trust is put, and for which, at first at least, as with Stalin, Mao, Hitler, there is thought perhaps to be desirability IN THE LONG RUN. In this way, as with the Jesuits, the END is felt to justify the MEANS, and mental reservations can be extolled, when truth is in view, for the sake of getting the aim realised. You kill it to get it; but the death of Christ was HIS, and no man took it from Him; and it was not as truth, that His body died, but as vehicle of it. HIS Spirit was committed to His Father's hands!
This, then, this departure or equivocation, this casuistry, it is merely the expression of rebellion, and prostitution, which leads to disorders, disruptions, ferocities, foul dishonesty, removal as in Russia now, of free speech and so on. It is all one. The main things go for the sake of the imagined ones, and it can almost seem, in extreme cases, as if the real aim were various approximations to hell in unreliability, mischief and self-will parade, like mentally unbalanced mannequins. It is not always soon that the end comes when the means are promoted past the principles, but it comes! it comes ...
Consider living where secret police, unexposable by a chained press, or a dumped independent TV, can come and remove you overnight, for the sake of the ridiculous and irrational objectives of party people, irreverent to life, irrelevant to truth, using force like a wrench in the midst of heart surgery!
has a delicate side, and a special grace he can show: these things are
abortions of those things, intemperate, dim and anguished, causing anguish
and without hope. They are a bane to the race, as history endlessly shows;
such leadership is to the nether regions of ruin.
BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP, CRESTED AND INSPIRED IN CHRIST
Here then look at the principles. Look at I Corinthians 13, for the principles over all and for all, and to be in all who live. What is one ? It is KINDNESS, for LOVE IS KIND, COURTESY for concern is required; QUIETNESS of spirit, when provocation comes; capacity to endure, when trial comes; minimal inflation, when 'success' comes; love of truth, with disdain for evil ways as competitors with truth; willingness to believe any good thing, not without ground, but without cynical confusion or sceptical insertions; unselfishness so that it is never MY WILL, as the criterion, but the will of GOD! These are some of the things to be found in I Corinthians 13 as it extols and prescribes the love of God for the spirit ofman.
Likewise, envy is excluded, since the usage of the gifts of others is desirable, and does not bear on the use of one's own; for "love does not seek its own." It trusts by faith in God for the consummation of His desire in one's life, and not in the grasping, pushing or even scheming substitutes which lead to angry snarling and betrayals!
Love does not find pleasure in evil, in injustice, in inequity. If now indeed you read Malachi 3, as we have been doing earlier in this volume, you find for example the divine detestation of oppression:
"I will be a swift witness against ... those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,Here the ground of our desire for justice is based squarely on the justice of the Maker. He is no manufacturer of injustice, but rebukes it and overturns kingdoms for the sake of their failure
And against those who turn away an alien -
Because they do not fear Me,"
Says the LORD of hosts.
For I am the LORD; I do not change:
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob."
Secondly, it can come through specific failure to implement justice, to teach the young His ways, and to promote understanding. Blind and deaf, this was His characterisation of Israel, with lips near Him but hearts far away (Isaiah 29:13), ignoring His commands of justice and truth, and following whatever the listless spirit suggested, in many things, till the culmination was unbearable. Israel again and again was disciplined for this (Isaiah 42:18, Deuteronomy 32:15ff., 29ff.). Indeed, what the world often sees, the utter dispersion of the 7th. century B.C. of Israel in the Northern Kingdom, the exile of Judah in the 6th. for a predicted 70 year in Babylon, and then, after the crucifixion of their King, Christ, in Judah, for an extended nearly 2000 years in the world at large: these become only the most obvious examples.
Corruption, easily defined as using what one wants to distort that to which one is justly obligated, is all the more corrosive when the justice is from God Himself, who created our very spirits in which we can yearn for it, or man can betray it. Thus in Micah 3:10ff., you have this exposure, which by implication makes clear the way required, and in which one must be led:
"...rulers ... who build up Zion with bloodshedWhat leadership, however, did Micah the prophet, in direct guidance from God, provide ?
And Jerusalem with iniquity.
"Her heads judge for a bribe,
Her priests teach for pay,
And her prophets divine for money.
"Yet they lean on the LORD, and say,
'Is not the LORD among us ?
No harm can come upon us.
"Therefore because of you
Zion shall be ploughed like a field,
Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple
Like the bare hills of the forest."
"But truly, " he declared, "I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD,
And of justice and might,
To declare to Jacob his transgression,
And to Israel his sin.
Now hear this
You heads of the house of Jacob,
And rulers of the house of Israel,
Who abhor justice
And pervert all equity..."
and so it proceeds as we have just seen cited above, from this same chapter.
Micah's leadership has divine authority, since he is sent. However the principle is there. If one is simply following what is written, it is the same Lord who gave it, the same principles which it enshrines.
Thus there is VISION, there is COURAGE to declare it, irrespective of popularity, prestige and patronage, and of course, profit. There is correction and there is no protection of evil for the sake of stability. Stability is from God, and the aims are NOT at all to be sacrificed in the means (cf. Isaiah 33:6, 32:14ff.).
notes the immense emphasis on justice, non-abuse of human beings for inhuman
purposes, sincerity. Truth can take it. As soon as the means continue to
compete with the ends, the objectives, it becomes clear that either the
leader is utterly corrupt, or else that truth is not the objective. It
may VERBALLY be so, but not actually. CLAIMS, whether in science, or other
aspects of truth, are not the same as REALITIES. We were looking in A
Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-3, at
some of the absurdities which occur when this happens, and again in That
Ch. 7. Hypocrisy is exposed by the LORD in scripture, repeatedly, and with vision, He requires victory over its betrayal for inferior purposes, and a sincerity which blazes, indeed stating, He makes His servants flames of fire!
Now all this is desirable. Who would complain of a leadership with utter sincerity, integrity, with understanding, with principles of equity and concern, of awareness and consideration, of fair purpose with far vision, and concordant ways! Ruffians and the unruly may not do so, but normally, except it be simple crime, to get what others have by concentrating on grabbing, not producing, there is the ALTERNATIVE VISION which is used as the EXCUSE for betraying justice, or dumping kindness and concern. It is not that they do not matter; they may simply not, with some, not matter ENOUGH! This does not agree with what God is, and hence has His enmity as well as the offence of the offenders, which often in various junta, at length topples the morally topless leadership. Nor does God watch without action as He chooses (cf. Isaiah 37-38!). His intervention is far from disqualifying liberty and freedom; but it also is present to limit the evil and defend the truth (cf. Isaiah 44:26-45:4 where Cyrus is named before birth, as the one to bring to an end, the divine discipline expressed in the exile of Israel).
There is also, in leadership, the eminent desirablility of leading someone to a place or indeed a person, to which one can GO! It should be practical. Thus in this same prophet Micah, at Ch. 5, we find that his divinely donated denunciations are not at all, the barren lovelessness of the hyper-critical, baptising with verbal fire the hypocritical! Rather the case is far deeper and equipped with vastly more meaning than this.
The living God, from whom these principles come, and come to be dear to the seeking heart of man, who often espouses them verbally at least, and is often elected when he does! it is HE to whom Micah refers, in the word of God. Now HE, as you see here, is intent on providing a Ruler, a Leader (as in Isaiah 55:4, Micah 5:1-3), who has eternity for His background, who will use both strength and majesty when He comes, and who will in Himself provide peace, even on this earth (as in Isaiah 2, Micah 4, Isaiah 65, Psalm 73). But what other criteria are in HIS divine leadership, when He comes to show it in majestic action, as it should be, just as last time He showed it in passion, as it had to be for the sake of love and mercy, directing sin's reward onto Himself on the cross, for all who would believe in Him, and follow Him (as in Isaiah 53, II Cor. 5:19-21, Galatians 3:1-13, Matthew 20:28)! Kindness, mercy, justice and truth... there is more.
There is a sense of GLORY. This is IN HIM, but for those who follow Him, it is TO HIM. There is a pointer to the point, there is a direction as to direction, and the direction finds the Director, mediately as through His testimony from man, or immediately when He is on earth or through His Spirit moving on the heart to convict or regenerate it, to enliven it to His word. Thus of this same Christ, we read in Isaiah 55:
"Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you -
The sure mercies of David.
Indeed I have given Him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people..."
Here are found MERCY, humanly expressed in diligent style, with historic connection as to David who, sinner though he was, lived a life in general of such passionate desire for the love of his people, that you even see him empty out on the ground, the water which some of his loyal soldiers got for him from the well at Bethlehem, to satisfy his yearning when oppressed, and to comfort him. He COULD not accept such a gift at such cost. He did not deem himself worthy of such sacrifice, nor did he desire others to risk so much for so small a benefit to him, compared with life itself. He loved his men (II Samuel 23:15-17):
" 'Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives ? ' Therefore he would not drink it."Thus, with such restraint and constraint, David would not prosecute Shemaiah who cast dust on him and stones at him as he went, barefooted in humiliation, from Jerusalem where his kingdom was being challenged by his own rebellious son, Absalom. Despite the provocation, he considered his sins, and said nothing. Again, he still loved, in forbearance and longsuffering, his son who rebelled and threatened his life, took his kingdom's capital momentarily and behaved with ruthless pride. When the young man was killed, CONTRARY to his orders, David was desolated, his soul like ruins, and he cried,
"O my son Absalom - my son, my son Absalom - If only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"There, in David, you see restraint, moderation and the thrusting downward of desire for one's own success, stability of power and prestige. It comes from love. It is often found in part in families, where mutual concern flourishes, exhortation or remedy arise, each provided in its time, where natural feeling is still present and sharing of news and developments becomes a means of mutual advance in things worthwhile, with keen joy for the development of each in goodness and wisdom.
This is a taste of the love of Christ, who did offer Himself in our place, and died in it, for those who receive Him (John 3:16, I John 3:1, Isaiah 53, where those whose sin He actually bears are equated with the saved).
You see it, this prescribed spirit of leadership, also, in a DESIRE TO TEACH, to reach those for whom one has some responsibility, as far as may be in the case in view, with the MEANS of life, the PRINCIPLES of righteousness and the OBJECTIVES in depth. There is much need.
Thus Christians are expressly forbidden to be in partnership with non-Christians, and even in business, this soon shows its head, for the deeds of the one become the responsibilities of the other (II Cor. 6:14ff.). In larger firms, where religious impartation is not permitted, still the meaning of justice, loyalty and truth, of peaceableness and yet fearlessness for truth, can be inculcated, and some even make provisions for prayers for all those desiring it. One well remembers advising a would-be US State Senator, that if he were asked at a political meeting, to pray, he should be grateful for the opportunity and so say, but make it clear that the non-Christians could not join, since faith is required in the object, Jesus Christ. He did it, perhaps moved hearts, and won, gaining his position in the Senate.
This desire to teach was prominent both in the famed Kings Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah. You see it in Jehoshaphat, who organised a teaching mission to the nation (II Chronicles 17:7-10). So vast was the impact and the obvious dedication, that "the fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat" (II Chronicles 17;10).
Indeed, in II Chronicles 20:2-18, you see how he met challenge given by multiple invasion. He CALLED the people together, he REHEARSED the principles of God by which they lived, he SURVEYED the unrighteousness of the cause of those, returning evil for good, who thus came; and he ASKED for help. God sent it quickly first via the prophet Jahaziel, and then in division of their enemies, leading to two amazing things. The army of Jehoshaphat went PRAISING the Lord into battle, and they did not need to fight, as the prophet had told them. The spoil lay spread out as at a bazaar, for the taking. The enemies had destroyed themselves.
Thus leadership, unashamedly in the truth averted loss, and made the actual realities of God, abundantly clear, and one of these ? it is this: practical recognition of the true and living God, who matters, whose words attests itself continually, commitment to which, IN HIS PRESENCE and love and mercy, is crucial to any enduring power. The paradox to the power hungry, is that those who ARE God's are not interested in mere power or prevailing for fortune; and those who are, cannot find where it is! This however is actually the path of peace, for those who can reach the power of God, do not want it for selfish reasons (which exclude the folly of pretence); and those who cannot reach it, do not have it. They merely lead, parade in the pretentious and the superficial, to its accorded end.
As to the power of God. The British Empire rose with it, reaching at one stage more and more for the truth; and it has fallen from it, the national commitment in its State Church becoming both in doctrine and numbers, appalling (cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 7, A Question of Gifts VI and The Frantic Millenium and the Peace of Faith Ch. 1, Wake up World! Your Creator is Coming ... Ch. 3, Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 5 and Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch. 5). The path, power and principles of God, you see present in splendour in the walk and way of Jewish King Josiah, as he brings truth to his ruined country, which he so benevolently ruled after the preceding carnage that spoiled so many of the people, oppressing both children and indeed, the truth! (II Chronicles 34:14-30, II Kings 16:11ff.).
Thus confronted with need and opportunity, he insisted on giving place, in tradition - which was fallen and vulgar in much - to truth, which was blazed abroad when a forsaken book was found, a book of the Lord, in the Temple (II Chr. 34:15ff.).
But about the King Hezekiah, you see a practical zeal, as he personally supervised the removal of the delusive false teachers, and sought commitment from his people to the Lord and His ways. Indeed, in II Chronicles 30:22, we see "he gave encouragement to all the Levites, who taught the good knowledge of the LORD". Indeed, we find this:
Now he was honest, honourable and practical, so before this, we find these words of realisation and reality, following the equivocating and indeed in the end, ruthlessly rebellious words of the preceding king:
As to this Hezekiah, he even sent messengers to the neighbouring Israel, in the process of utter ruin, appealing to them also to return to the Lord, whose they ostensibly were, and from whom they had grossly strayed in so many witless ways (II Chronicles 30:8ff.). He sought to restore the work of the men of God to its full extent (II Chronicles 28:8-11). He did not scruple to approach the people of a neighbouring country, though filled with idolatry, keeping much enmity. Tradition did not rule him, but truth moved him. He sent, he exhorted, he appealed, he sought to bring it home, even where he was not at home! His missionary zeal was timely, compassionate, warm.
Delightfully, when in the disorder he sought to remedy, he found in the great Passover feast for the nation, that some people had not fulfilled various ceremonial needs, such being the unusual and the vast extent of the programme, he "prayed for them, saying, 'May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone.' " There is here the absence of the dominating martinet, the dictator; there is kindness and consideration, without loss of law and righteousness. As to the messengers sent to fallen Israel to the North of the land of Judah, they were not always well received, but "they laughed at them and mocked them!" thus reminding us of the principle of Jesus the Messiah:
"He who hears you, hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me!" (Luke 10:16).
This of course is dependent on their felicity of faithfulness, for Christ also said this: "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me", showing that His ACTUAL disciples draw their very lives from Him, just as their tenor is likewise, not in Inquisitorial Iniquity, but in grace and kindness, such as Peter commands of elders everywhere, in whom much leadership is vested (I Peter 5), forbidding the noxious practice of lording it over the flock!
In fact, just as Christ did not forward His humanly conceived 'self' neither may His servants, for He says this: "Peace to you. Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you!" (John 20:21). Indeed, even of Himself, He declared:
then relates to spiritual leadership, but it has enormous implications
DIRECT EXAMPLE OF CHRIST,
ITS POWER AND PERCEPTION,
PRODIGIOUS PURITY AND UTTER GRACE
leadership that can lead even the lost to the way of life (Luke 19),
and find leaders to follow Him (Matthew 4:18ff.), committing love's labour to them (John 21)
As to Jesus Christ: Was there a challenge of subtlety, as when He had to pay a temple tax, or else make His disclaimer to be based on their refusal to acknowledge that the temple BELONGED TO and was FOR His Father ? He met it by miracle, thus showing WHO He was (and is) but that He would not work on non-faith for personal advantage, as it might be construed (Matthew 17:24ff.). He saw the implications, met the case, and in doing so, exhibited the truth. THAT, it is leadership! When asked in confrontation by the powers by then were, and now are not, "ARE YOU THE CHRIST, the Son of the Blessed ? " (Mark 14:61-62), Christ did not reply simply on His own authority, nor did He compromise.
Rather with deft dynamic, He replied: "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." This meant that He was showing that He knew the LONGSTANDING BIBLICAL BASIS of His position, so clearly predicted, here in Daniel 7. He had an appointed place, and He was filling, not inventing it! It shows more, because of the humility and grace of the figure who is in fact exhibited in Daniel, One who is there shown receiving power in the gracious presence of a loving Father, power over men as a man.
The implication is that He was doing it AS DIRECTED, and without self-assertion, a fact confirmed repeatedly, as seen in such places as John 12:48-50, John 14:11. The EVIDENCE is noted, and the power, the performance is simply listed relative to the requirements (as in Matthew 11:4, when John the Baptist sought reassurance). He does not need to shout; He simply shows.
Thus He did not diminish His personal significance, since God cannot do that, as man or not, without ceasing to be God, which is impossible (cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 8). He did not pretend to be less than He was. Nor however did He cling to importance, but simply attested the factual reality, the evidential ring of sublime truth. They could not dismiss Him without ignoring this (as seen so clearly in John 11:47ff., where the murder plot, so ironically merely fulfilling the long prediction of the prophets, and performing for Him, what He had to do! - Isaiah 53, Psalm 2, 69, Isaiah 49:7, cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25). He was simply overwhelming in word and deed, and they could either receive or kill Him, no other way being open. Like men, they abused the covenant, killed the Christ when He became available for such a direct expression of feeling, and in all ways did just as His parable in Mark 12 indicated. HE the heir! let us slay Him.
In stark contrast to such odious things, Christ Himself was inventive, imaginative as with the fish, constructive as at the feeding of the 5000, not merely using a miracle, which fitted into the prophetic past, something Elijah had done on a smaller scale, but eliciting a basis in the people themselves, and to make the point more incisive, this from a boy, using his lunch! (Matthew 14). Again, He did not hesitate to repeat the lesson, making sure certain... (Mark 8), or to APPLY the principle, to show the correct priorities (Mark 8:13-21). His power over the sea and wind, He displayed, not in some abstracted fashion, but when His disciples needed it (Mark 4:35ff.), asking Him for intervention, so that by this act, He allowed them to live and serve, the mission to be fulfilled and the gift of life eternal to proceed to its consummation.
Christ's sense of proportion is beautifully demonstrated with the Syro-Phoenician woman. His first mission was Israel (as in Ezekiel 34, where God indicated HE would come and look after His flock personally!), but this did not prevent His joy in faith outside it, and His work with it when it was to be so found (Matthew 15:21ff.): "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire!" said He to the non-Jewish suppliant! just after declaring where His priority of wor k lay (elsewhere!). The flexibility of love was thus manifest, without derogation of the determinate character of principle. It was not necessary to abort in order to add, like that. In time, the Gentiles of course would, as Isaiah and others predicted (42:6, 49:6) become a focus themselves; but there were steps, there was method. It was followed with wisdom, and completed with care, not fanaticism.
This willingness to accommodate was matched by a total prohibition on sin, and an insistence on righteousness, not in mere form, but in spirit (cf. John 4:10-24). Traditions at variance with true principles He abhorred (Mark 7:7), and understanding He required (John 6:60ff.), not allowing mere misconception to fuzz the facts, or fustigate the truth.
Gracious and loving, tender-hearted and compassionate, but never varying from His own principles and standards, as truth, He moved with grace (John 1). As comforting (Isaiah 40, 61:1ff.), He yet did not hesitate to correct when necessary, even dramatically (Matthew 16:23); but for all that, if there was a form of evil He did not need to envelop, He allowed it to come duly to its own consummation (as in Judas), looking with grace to the end (John 13:22ff.), though He knew of the treachery from the earliest time (John 6:70 cf. Matthew 26:54).
Decisive and often incisive, He continued unchanged, deft in manner, understanding to the uttermost, gracious in demeanour, yet able to rebuke with a sharpness depending on the case. Such in extreme measure arose as seen in Matthew 24, where gross masquerading and parading had replaced truth, in many religious leaders, blind leaders of the blind, who thus endangered and misused the lives of many people - Luke 11:52. Arsenic with the aspros, to ponder the anachronistic with joy, is not desirable. The offence to medicine is profound. Pretence for truth, and bloating for humility, pay for prayer, these are not the way. No society could improve on His vehement denunciation of this gross farce of picturesque pomp replacing mercy and truth!
Goodness and mercy He loved and showed as He met the challenge of the Cross, being most aware of its cursed nature (Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:39ff.); and yet He was tenderly solicitous to the end for His disciples in their component of the test (Luke 21:31-32). To the lost, He continued a loving regard, weeping over brazen Jerusalem (Luke 19:42ff.); and in the truth, He did not vary, for where mercy was forsaken, there was no other source, sign or signal, resource or recourse (John 9:39-40).
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin;
but now they have no excuse for their sin.
"He who hates Me hates My Father also.
"If I had not done among them the works which no one else did,
they would have no sin;
but now they seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law,
'They hated Me without a cause.' "
As to that 'hate', some was obvious, as in the murder plot, but some was latent, actual and needs elucidation. Thus in Luke 14, we find that you must HATE mother and father, and so on, if you are ever to be His disciple. Since Christ quoted the commandment to honour mother and father, it is obvious what the meaning is here.
It is this. COMPARED with your commitment to Him, you must follow at any cost, even if need be, in divided households (which He forecast would be common), so that it is as if you hated the parent who wrongly seeks to prevent you from following Him. In this sense, 'hate' becomes a code word, a word expressible in principles relating properly only to GOD, and it means the opposite of the corrrelative love for this.
Thus to love God is to be with ALL the heart and soul and mind and strength. To hate the competition, is to dismiss it without chagrin, so that no compromise is found with that God who, being a Spirit, does not work with folly of heart (Psalm 66:18). To 'hate' Him is simply to refuse His principles, depart from His commission, ignore His commitment, dismiss His words or select them as you will: it is NOT to give Him His place. Thus GOD hated the solemn assemblies (Isaiah 1) BECAUSE they were mere substitutes for that spiritual reality which deals with Him as He is, directly, personally and honestly.To evict GOD from His operational base, excluding Him even in the face of His costly mercy, sacrificially instated for all who come, or more accurately to continue the exclusion with evictive will: this is odious.
In this way, even if they draw near with their lips, if their hearts are still far off (Isaiah 29:13), He still and indeed all the more
"will do a marvellous work among this people, a marvellous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden"(cf. I Cor. 1, where this wonderful thing is seen to be the Gospel, with its decisive involvements with mankind as in John 3;16, 19, 36).
It is then that
"the humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD,That is the Christ whose works and ways we have regarded in terms of leadership, and to this we shall shortly return. However, let us consider from the depths of this Isaianic prophecy, the results, then as now, of straying from the truth.
And the poor among men shall rejoice
In the Holy One of Israel,"
yes and in that day,
"The deaf shall hear the words of the book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness,"
God is gracious, yet where the word of the Lord is NOT so taken, whether in arrogant disdain, apathetic disregard, or rebellious and knowledgeable dismissal, accretion or mixture, the word comes in depth and with scorn:
"Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD,Thus GOD hated the solemn assemblies (Isaiah 1) BECAUSE they were mere substitutes for that spiritual reality which deals with Him as He is, directly, personally and honestly. Rebelliousness which took things in a pagan or impure spirit met this:
And their works in the dark:
They say, ‘Who sees us ?'
and ‘Who knows us ?’
Surely you have things turned around!
"Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay
For shall the thing made say of him who made it,
‘He did not make me ?’
Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,
‘He has no understanding ?’"*1
"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from being king" - I Samuel 15:22-23.
Even sacrifice not in the spirit of it, not therefore with faith, is mere oblivion of truth, despoiling in symbolism, the spirituality for which it stood. God detests these things and makes it pellucid, like the sea in the shallows viewed from a bridge, in the kind sunshine, showing the least detail on the bottom of the waters. (Cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Appendix, and Ch. 10, Parts 2 and 3).
These sacrifices of old, they spoke, they symbolised, but they did not substitute for the reality to which they referred. Indeed, the LORD Himself came as that reality (Isaiah 40:10, 48:16, Zechariah 2:8, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 102, 40 cf. Joyful Jottings 21-25), and performed once for all that sacrifice which was not merely depictive, but executive, paying once for all in justice and in judgment for all sin for all time for any who became His, and so received the privileges of the House, its discipline, its upbringing and its peace (Hebrews 2, 7-10). This was the predicted "marvellous work among the people" we have noted, and it is clearly portrayed in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
The sacrifices, repetitive, administered by priests ? It took Christ to dismiss them, dispense with their fatefully superficial misuse, just as in Isaiah 1:18 God sought them to ‘reason together’ and receive Him in spirit and in truth, so that
"though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,But just as then so many disappeared over the spiritual horizon, relentlessly renegade, remorselessly recidivist, imperiously impenitent, scornful of truth and dismissive of doctrine, ignoring God in the greatness of their way, so in the Roman Catholic Mass, even this is once again misused and the constructions of man again spoil the provisions of religious reality (cf. Jeremiah 6:14-16, II Kings 16:10ff., Proverbs 30:6, SMR pp. 1042ff.).
Though they be red like crimson,
They shall be as wool..."
Sects multiply to make it all so modern, with such ancient errors and futile splendours (cf. Things Old and New). Christs are fixed and fixated and whatever their makers want, false prophets are a twenty first century specialty. Freemasonry continues likewise its god-synthesis, its JBO, in the frankest possible parallel to the work of Ahaz noted in II Kings above (cf. SMR p. 701). .
These things proliferate as predicted (Matthew 24:24) and had to do so, before the Lord returned, His word having so declared, so that the more they come, the more they verify His word, who WILL come! The mass goes on in the midst, that ancient subversive of doctrine, like the Baals of old, misusing the very name 'Lord' with priestly interventions, both contrary to and perilous for any mercy from Christ (cf. Luke 11:53).
Whether then the Mass, or some other substitute for the word of God, it is the same. But this Mass has the distinction of being a mordant substitute for Himself in His sacrifice, which HE offered, NO Man taking His life from Him (John 10:18), in His ONCE only suffering sacrifice, WITH BLOOD in many things the contrary of Rome (Hebrews 9:12ff.). As to this pictorial substitute, with its alleged 'powers' of remission without blood (Hebrews 9:22 to the contrary),
Thus whether empty pride in religious dismissal of Christ, or empty forms in religious distortion (as in II Timothy 3, Micah 2:5-7), it is an abominable thing, hated of the Lord. It is hated in ceremonial manipulation (cf. Ezekiel 8:6ff., with its condemned idols and variations), false prophecy bringing its own burden and disposing of it in the place given to God (as in Jeremiah 23:21 - "I did not send these prophets, yet they ran"), bypassing by any means, verbal, ritual or directional, the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35).
This is done: instead of directly believing what He has said and doing it out of love, because of gratitude, in grace, by which alone one is saved (Ephesians 2:1-12), while receiving with purged repentance the offering of the One who ALONE did it and has done it, as Hebrews states so clearly, once for all, and by ONE offering sanctifying FOR EVER those who come to God by Him (Hebrews 9:12-1014). This, His word and work, His way and His truth, can as well be combined with ANYTHING as cream with ditch water, or chemically pure BP medicines, with swamp syrup.
"The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;No other word is comparable, any more than any finite number is comparable with infinity. It took the kindness of God in the coming of Christ to display directly, dynamically and in person, His very self (Hebrews 1, Philippians 2, Titus 2:11, 3:4-7). HE CAME, but the word was the same, inveterate, inviolable, HIS. Thus there it was again, that same immiscible authority:
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the LORD.
Is not My word like a fire ?’ says the LORD,
And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces ?"
"Do not be called Rabbi, : for One is your Teacher, even Christ; and all you are brothers. AND CALL NO MAN YOUR FATHER UPON THE EARTH, FOR ONE IS YOUR FATHER who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, even the Christ" (Matthew 23:8ff., caps. added).Indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ dismissed the traditions of men by which they dare to imitate His ways, interpret His will and put filigree work about the (Mark 7:7ff.):
"This people draw near Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me,
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men...
"All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition..."
So we have returned to the words of Christ Himself, having considered some of His wonderful ways as leader, and His very focus on wonder, for His very name is wonderful (Isaiah 9:7 cf. Judges 13:18)..
In all this you behold Christ as Leader (as predicted in Isaiah 54:4ff.), filled with everlasting compassion (Matthew 23:37, Ezekiel 33:1 with Ch. 34), immovable in truth, in integrity, who could be moved with compassion, tender and delicate, discerning and alert in all things, never failing to meet the case with the weapons needed, always and invariably filled with virtue and integrity, using His power with the utmost restraint, and only in the interest of truth and mission.
When your leadership bears in mind and heart, such principles as in these persons, and above all, in Christ, are shown, then it begins to have what is recognised as wonderful, for its equity, charity, personality, grace and sufficiency, its mercy and its thoughtfulness, its zeal for truth and its constant readiness to be reasonable, not instead, but as well!
The example in leadership (Isaiah 55:4) of Christ is the cynosure for the world, which, here in this desperation of unbelief, there in that passion of disfaith (cf. SMR Index), frequently and alas, characteristically follows its tail around and around in the books of history, until it is - as is now manifestly nearer than it was - burnt up (cf. II Peter 3:10-13). Here is the "desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7), and His rest is indeed "glorious" (Isaiah 11:10); but many, despite their manufactured codes and keys within, courtesy of the Creator, and despite the appeal of justice, truth, peace and integrity to their inward hearts, yet work with folly as if bent again on providing the truth of this word in Isaiah 57:19-20:
"I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,'
Says the LORD,
'And I will heal him.'
But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.' "
The we read this:
" 'There is no peace,'
Says my God, 'for the wicked.' "
The reader may be pleased to turn now to an allied topic, GOOD GOVERNMENT.
*1This of course is precisely the pagan presumption, replacing the merciful power to receive the divine prerogative of mercy, with the attribution of meaning to that tallied in its essence, as meaningless, even to the very basis of meaning: as if to lack meaning were the way to find it, in any regard, or to comment! Meaning requires truth and truth requires God and God requires that we listen!
What would have the Lord proceed with such pagan presumptions, merely add arrogant accolades of evil to their dismissal of the only God who is there; for the curse is not the creation, neither has it created any kind. What was made, continues, and what was not is not made. Proliferations multiply, kinds do not; structures and designs from the divine hand in fact go, and the information decreases according to the law, the second of thermodynamics. Man mourns their loss, but does not seek their Maker, in multitudes only to insult the hand which made them and to falsify the heart which created (Romans 8:18, 5:1-12).
See SMR Ch. 3,
A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-9, esp. 9
Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch. 13 ,
SMRpp.32, 146, 261, 271, 295, 397,422C, 1002B, 1138, and Ch.3; BB 1, 3, 7, 14, 18, 19, 26, 28, 29, 30,
Little Things 5,
Benevolent Brightness or Brothy Bane 87,
News, Facts and Forecasts 14 (News 122),
The Biblical Workman Ch. 7; and
Barbs, Arrows and Balms 1, 3, 7, 14, 18, 19, 26, 28, 29, 30.
See also the words of truth in Jeremiah 2:13,27, Isaiah 57:6.
The indictment for our day is not less than that for those of Israel of old; and as to our generation, it has been given more light, for the light of the world has personally come (John 9:5,39), and is to return, having had His Gospel go forth as declared, to the ends of the earth. THAT is the required prelude to the only monarchy which will endure, and of His kingdom there is no end (Daniel 7:14,27).