Luke 15:2—And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
Our pastor recently received an anonymous email that was highly critical of himself and his executive pastor. As an elder, I can honestly share that this kind of message serves only to discourage leaders. The person criticizing picks apart whatever he or she disagrees with, is not part of a solution and hides behind a cloak of anonymity rather than come and personally share what is misunderstood. It is too easy to be critical. It is also immature to lob rocks from the other side of the hill.
The Army requires every company to conduct what is called a Command Climate Survey. The purpose of this survey is to let leaders know the health of their organization by giving soldiers the opportunity to anonymously write positive or negative observations about a wide range of issues within their unit. In the headquarters company for the division I commanded, several people wrote that I had favorites. The inference was that I spent a disproportionate amount of time with certain people—some of whom were directly named. The criticism was petty and, probably fueled to some extent by jealousy, but I could not ignore it or it would just continue to fester and cause deeper problems.
Operation Guardian is an exercise designed for selected Army units to practice search and rescue, decontamination, life-saving skills, convoy movement and set up and tear down of portable equipment. I had the opportunity to watch my soldiers train in Florida and Georgia. When I arrived in Ocala my staff briefed me that there were civilians seeking admittance to our training who were spreading reports that the exercise was a staging operation to bring in foreign occupation troops and remove American freedoms.
He jumped in too early. A white policeman arrested a prominent black professor, and eager journalists needled President Obama to answer before he knew all the facts. He misspoke. Perhaps a lingering frustration gave birth to an unfortunate vetting. That silence can be golden is an understatement for a man besieged by microphones. Our society is sensitive to racial harmony—and should we be surprised, given that our melting pot is a degree away from a boiling kettle!
One man was a Pharisee, a religious leader zealous to maintain a sinless posture. The other woman was in all likelihood a prostitute. The Pharisee invited Jesus into his home and whether by oversight or by intent failed to offer the common amenity of providing water for his guest to wash his feet. The woman, taking advantage of a custom that allowed the poor into a home for scraps, bathed Jesus’ feet with grief-stricken tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them in profound reverence and perfumed them—perhaps with the very oil she once used to lure men.
Once upon a time a young man, Foye, crossed the ocean to explore Vacuities the world’s most powerful nation. Everywhere he went he met a myriad of people moving from city to city, looking for meaning. Inside a harbor graced by a noble statue, he first encountered the City of Results. But for all the accomplishments the city boasted he constantly met people disappointed that their goals brought no lasting satisfaction. It was like they worked and worked, but for what? Traveling inland, he spent time in the City of Retirement—a most sought after destination. Yet, here he discovered that there was little to live for among those entranced with ease, so most just died.
Sam walked from the studio into the sanctuary. The amplifier levels were set incorrectly and the sound in the room from the instruments was unbalanced. So he adjusted the levels on the soundboard and moved the amp volumes up to full power. He removed the old paper arrows taped to the board assigning each channel a specific level. Now the system sounded great. Sam was pleased he had helped the church.
Morning comes and Chris is tired. He spent a restless night battling the accusations of people who disagree with him. His character has been questioned. His actions are constantly scrutinized. His leadership is eroding and he feels angry. So, he contemplates how he should defend himself. Rather than talk to God about His pain, Chris reviews the weaknesses of his detractors and how he can prove them wrong. No longer can he minister effectively for his motives are based on a personal agenda.
Caleb’s head sunk in agony. On the splintered beams of a weathered deck stood the only life left that really mattered—his daughter. And now she was to be sold into slavery—auctioned off like some four-legged beast of burden.
Jesus was the apotheosis of courage. Imagine being perfect yet choosing to ignore the false charges of corrupt accusers! Jesus let His character be assassinated without defending Himself. He accepted His own murder without the need to exact revenge. Instead, He entrusted Himself to His Father's hands--to be publicly humiliated by the very people He came to save. If anyone had the right to call down forces from heaven it was Christ. By thought alone He could have called out legions of angels. They didn't have to pack duffel bags or get Anthrax shots before deploying! No force on earth could have stopped them. Yet, the Son of Man submitted to God's will. The Holy Spirit would come after to vindicate Him. The pierced One rose to eternal glory.