The Kirk requires reformation. People and Priest, Elders, Presbyters, the moderator, the Assemblies, and the Schools of Ministry. For we have become too clever by half: too subtle. We are careful with our interpretation of the word, bringing in context, and in doing so we have not merely the risk of subverting the plain teaching of God, but holding those who read the word and make valiant efforts to obey it in contempt.
A Song of Ascents.
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.
(Psalm 123 ESV)
We have lost our way. As our brothers and sisters are dying under the yoke of a resurgent Islamism, in both our allies and in those we account as enemies, we are far too busy worrying about being politically correct and non judgemental.
Forgetting that the only way to get people to live rightly is to teach them what this is, and correct they when that is wrong. The Holy Spirit will do its work, yes. We need to be careful and discerning in what we see and read, yes. And what is good and truthful and honourable and beautiful is from God, true.
But the role of those in leadership is to lead, not follow. To preach truth, particularly when it is uncomfortable and challenging. To be gentle with those who have been broken by our society, yes, and encourage them to reform, yes.
For our God is merciful. This passage is many things, but one of them is a warning.
Thus said the LORD my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the LORD, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them. For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the LORD. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”
So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter. Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Then the LORD said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.
“Woe to my worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm
and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered,
his right eye utterly blinded!”
(Zechariah 11:4-17 ESV)
If we, as a society, reject God, his patience will run out. If we, as a church, reject the gospel, we will wither, die, be wounded, be broken.
People and Priest.
Our leaders are, in this issue, accountable. As we are. We ine pews have a duty of prayer and cooperation with out leaders. This includes, at times, correction. The tradtition of the educated lay person, working through their theology with fear and trembling, is ancient.
For sometimes the professionals forget that this is not about a job, but life and death.
So let us not silence our conscience, or deny its existence because it makes our postmodern life uncomfortable, or call it a trigger warning, or PTSD. Instead, let it lead us to godly regret, to repentance, and to turn again to tour brothers and sisters, and ask them (and God) for forgiveness and mercy. For at this time such is given.
For the end is not yet, and now is the time to preach salvation.