The Word for today:
I tire, quickly, at the tone of voice affected by the current crop of Christian men.
Bending over backwards to be humble–humble, above all else!–we defer too readily, apologize too quickly, agree too broadly, and compromise too much.
When I first read the Bible, I didn’t know much about theology. Unschooled in the niceties of faith, I read about a man who, with 12 often bumbling disciples, stood against the legions of Rome, the forces of the Sanhedrin, and the bizarre political cauldron stirred by the psychopathic Herods.
What I remember being struck by, more than anything else, was the man’s sheer guts.
His guts. Jesus’ flat-out bravery gets lost amidst the grace, the forgiveness, the humility–humble, above all else!–the compassion, and the love.
We don’t characteristically hear, from our pulpits nor from the men in our pews, the tone of Christ’s voice which is prefigured by Nehemiah in today’s reading:
Should such a man as I run away? (Nehemiah 6:11)
That’s the voice that cleared the temple. That’s the voice that blistered the Pharisees. There is not, in that voice, a scintilla of either deference, or forgiveness, or compassion, or agreeableness.
I am following the bravest man I’ve ever met. You can talk about walking on water, and feeding five thousand, and calming the raging sea; but I hear most clearly, amidst the din of this battle, the commanding voice of the man who set his face like flint (1) for a date with Roman torturers–with their fists and their flogs and their nails and their cross–when he could have summoned 12 legions of angels. (2)
The unparalleled bravery which didn’t call 12 legions of angels to his rescue remains, to me, his greatest miracle –because it was in the losing of that battle that the lone soldier won the war.
Can you say ‘ass’ in a Bible blog? Well, having already introduced the topics of guts and gonads, I’ll risk it–in order to tell a story demonstrating what I hear as a Christ-like voice…
John Wesley–the great reformer, theologian, and evangelist–was about to cross a brook over which was a very narrow bridge, just wide enough for one person. As he was starting over, he met a liberal preacher of that day. This preacher swelled up and said, “I never give way to an ass.” John Wesley looked at him for a moment, smiled, and began to back off, saying, “I always do.”
“Should such a man as I run away?”
(1) see Isaiah 50:7 and Luke 9:51; (2) Matthew 26:53