Eyes

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Eyes

2 Chronicles 20:5-12

Jehoshaphat’s Prayer and Victory

Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? They have lived in it, and in it have built you a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before you, for your name is in this house, and cry to you in our distress, and you will hear and save.’ See now, the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession that you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment upon them? For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Galatians 5:7-12

You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul… but they are much more than that. Our eyes direct us. They direct our hearts. We look to the desires of our hearts. They direct our wills. We set our eyes upon on our goals. They direct our feet as most of the time we have to watch where we are going. Because they do all of these things, they direct our souls as well. Even the blind often direct unseeing eyes towards these things.

In our 3 dimensional world, we have many ways of leaving a path. One step just one degree to the right or left is not much and might pass unnoticed. That same shift kept up for 50 steps though can move us entirely off the path. Perhaps after 100 steps we are lost and can no longer see the path at all. We measure these turns and navigate the paths we take with our eyes.

Israel, in their near-sighted hindsight believed that it was God who commanded them not to destroy the nations that surrounded them in their 40 years in the wilderness, and therefore, in the days of King Jehoshaphat, those nations had amassed armies great enough to wipe them out. That is a bit of a twisted perspective of what had happened there, and perhaps a little bit of a political maneuver by the leadership – throwing the blame and responsibility upon God rather than taking any responsibility themselves.

The book of Numbers tells of 40 years that Israel wandered the wilderness among these nations, not because God would not let Israel conquer them, but because Israel had refused to conquer the Canaanites in the Promised Land and did not trust God that He would help them do it. It was not God, but their own fear that held them back. In the wilderness, they were to re-learn to trust God again… every day, for forty years. Each day, God fed them bread from heaven and quail to eat. He gave them water in the desert. He did everything to take care of them, until the children of the wilderness grew up and trusted God enough to conquer the Promised Land. They had their eyes on God.

Generations later, those nations were still there and rising up against Israel, just like they had in the wilderness. If Israel had learned their lesson and passed it on to the future generations, they would have realized that nothing had changed about their situation. But until the enemy started knocking on their doors, Israel did not realize how far off the path they had gotten themselves. It was then, Chronicles tells us, that they turned their eyes back on God, where they should have been all along.

Paul struggled immensely with this same problem in the Early Church. He started these Christian communities on the foundation of God’s grace as a free gift offered to all. But not long after he left these communities, others would come and convince them that they were not good enough… that more needed to be done to earn God’s favor. They took their eyes off God and put them on themselves and their own selfish desires. In doing so, they began to leave the path, step by step, until they could not find it again. It broke Paul’s heart to hear of these things, and much of his writing in the New Testament is there to remind those first Christians, just like the prophets reminded Israel, to turn their eyes back to God.

Where are your eyes today?

What do the places you are looking say about the state of your heart, mind, soul, and places you are going?

The Art and Science of God – Uncommon Sense

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The Art and Science of God

Uncommon Sense

Luke 14:7-14

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

One of the greatest gifts Jesus gives us is his practical teaching and example of the illogical and mysterious values of God. What I mean is that Jesus personifies (and perhaps humanitizes) Who God is, and does so in such an exemplary way that we are invited and instructed how to personify God in our own lives as well. However, the kind of example He sets is not necessarily one that is either easy to understand or follow. Not only can it be physically and emotionally challenging, it is sometimes counter-intuitive and hard to wrap our minds around.

Kingdom hospitality is an easy example of how the logic of God does not always line up with our culture’s version of “common sense”. Common sense from a capitalist standpoint tells us to focus the bulk of our hospitality on those whom we can expect a better return. Wine and dine those who have money to buy from you, not those too poor to afford your products and services. That first step to recognizing the truth about our common sense is that it is based upon our politics and economics, not our relationship with God.

Let me give another example. In our culture of copyrights land lawsuits, if you were able to create a water purification system using basic household objects, would you hold a public forum teaching your neighbors and community how to do it themselves or with you patent it in attempt to make money off of your idea? Which does your common sense promote? The good of the community for the good of your pocketbook? Most of us would probably try to do both. We might see it as a wasted opportunity if we did not try to make money and we might feel guilty if we did not at least try to make an attempt to better the lives of those around us.

Common sense is a tool designed to lead us to success (however we understand and define success). It is also a very logical tool. Common sense, like much of our scientific tools, is based upon success we can see. I think, like much of science, it is actually a little more biased toward sense of vision than any of our other senses. It leads us to make choices that look successful not just sound successful, or smell successful, and in many cases it leads us away from choices that “feel” successful. When we make choices because “it felt like the right thing to do at the time”, our common sense often warns us otherwise.

This is why Jesus baffles us so much. Jesus does not take the middle road. He does not tell us to go and invite anyone and everyone to our parties. He tells us to leave our rich neighbors alone, and throw parties specifically for those who cannot, let alone will not repay us. That makes common sense sick to its stomach.

Ambition tells us to succeed we must climb higher. A modest Version of common sense would tell us to be patient and strategic in how we climb to gain the most success without alienating those allies around us. As usual Jesus takes a completely different approach. He tells us, if you want to succeed do not climb higher… climb lower. Take a demotion. Now our common sense is screaming.

Is there no logic to God’s ethics? Indeed there is, but it is not based in capitalism, and even more jarring, it is not based in what we can see. John’s ethics are based upon an invisible truth: that God Himself created the world, holds the world together, and that we can not find success in life that is not A gift from Him. With that kind of logic it makes sense that helping our poor neighbors pleases God and we can expect to be successful and happy simply because God is pleased with us. Our common sense lives in a place of doubt and skepticism, existing to watch our back, doubting that we will be happy or successful merely by pleasing God, and coming up with back up plans just in case God does not exist at all. After all, our common sense has not seen Him lately.

What we need is not just more common sense. We need a little more faith in God. Not just faith in general or faith in ourselves… but faith in God. Perhaps this is why the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote:

Hebrews 11:6

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

How does your common sense help you draw closer to God?

How does your common sense conflict with your faith at times?

Why have you forsaken me?

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Why have you forsaken me?

Jeremiah 16:10–21 (NRSV)

And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, “Why has the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” then you shall say to them: It is because your ancestors have forsaken me, says the LORD, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law; and because you have behaved worse than your ancestors, for here you are, every one of you, following your stubborn evil will, refusing to listen to me. Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.

Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, “As the LORD lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” but “As the LORD lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their ancestors.

I am now sending for many fishermen, says the LORD, and they shall catch them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For my eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my presence, nor is their iniquity concealed from my sight. And I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.

O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, 
my refuge in the day of trouble, 
to you shall the nations come 
from the ends of the earth and say: 
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, 
worthless things in which there is no profit. 
Can mortals make for themselves gods? 
Such are no gods! 

“Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”

Would you have believed 20 years ago that one of, if not the biggest political issue facing our nation today in 2017 would be insurance? I don’t think I would have. Between shootings, bombings, human trafficking, abortion, education, and a host of other issues out there, I would not have imagined that insurance would be foremost on the minds of our leaders. To be fair, it is not just any insurance, it is health insurance – which does hit home for many of us. We are a mess though, and it looks like we will be for awhile longer.

We struggle, as did Israel before us, with placing our faith first and foremost in God. It seems more sensible to get insurance, take vitamins, eat healthy, exercise regularly, visit the doctor, get a second opinion, and then, if that fails, take up yoga and meditation to promote healing in our bodies. It is only when every other resource is exhausted that we turn to God and ask for help. That is completely backwards and is really downright sinful when it comes to our relationship with God.

I’m not opposed to any of the above methods of finding healing. What is wrong is when we do not go to God first. He may lead us to skip some or all of those methods. He may want to walk us through all of them and more.

Israel did not deal with health insurance thankfully, but they had a lot of struggles with foreign relations and their own economy. They felt they would make better friends and have better trade, if they welcomed other spiritual practices into their camps. God expressly forbade this and the little indiscretions sowed the seeds for greater catastrophe later on in the life of that nation. Finally, during the time of Jeremiah, God decided to judge Judah (Southern Israel) according to the same measure that He judged the other nations around them, and lo and behold, Judah, was no better than any of their neighbors. If anything, they were worse because they, unlike Babylon and Assyria, had the Law of Moses and knew better. They were supposed to be the leader, influencing others for good and not the follower, doing worse things to impress their friends.

So here God promises not only to forsake them and leave them to their own ends… He promises to come and punish them himself. He will remove them from their Promised Land, starting with their hunters and fishermen, the source of food and wealth for many of these communities.

There are times in life where we feel abandoned by God. Sometimes we blame Him. Other times we may feel like we are being justly punished for our own wrongdoing. Whatever our situation, Jeremiah reminds us that those things we are tempted to trust are not gods. They cannot save us. But God can and will if we make Him our strength and stronghold, our refuge in time of trouble. We cannot rely on our ancestors to have faith for us, we have to claim it and live it for ourselves. To that end, it does not matter what our nation or our world chooses to do, so much as it matters what you and I choose to do today.

Remember that the story did not end with the deportation of the Jews and the fall of Jerusalem. Several centuries later, even after it was rebuilt, albeit not the most faithfully, God came seeking fishermen again. This time, is was not to send them away in punishment, but rather to send them away in mission. Their faithfulness, in spite of the persecution they faced, changed the world, and helped shape who we are today.

Where do you feel abandoned by God?

Where have you trusted in others before seeking God?

Can you see ways that God is working even in the midst of your suffering?

Working on the Weekend

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Working on the Weekend

John 4:1-6

“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.”

This handful of verses is used by John to set the stage for one of the most famous stories in the gospels: The Woman at the Well. Today, let us take just a moment to look at Jesus, just before He met this woman who would go on to inspire the faith of her entire city.

John tells us that the whole journey started because the Pharisees were getting uppity in the Jerusalem area because Jesus was gaining more disciples than John (even though Jesus wasn’t baptizing any of them). It seems likely that the Pharisees had a respect for John the Baptist as a kind of ultra-conservative religious figure, even though John publicly mocked them. Jesus however, played a bit too fast and loose for them. He ate with sinners.

Perhaps Jesus did not want to stir up trouble too early. Maybe He simply had finished teaching in this area and was ready to move on. We do not know His exact. motive for sure, but Jesus left town and headed north, making His way back home to Galilee. Rather than try to go out of His way around Samaria, He chose to go through it.

This put Jesus in a vulnerable position, for Jews and Samaritans had a kind of heated religious and racial rivalry. Whereas the Roman Empire would have kept the two groups in check in the bigger cities like Jerusalem, I imagine that there was less protection in these smaller places like Sychar.

Jesus was also physically vulnerable simply from walking this far and needing water. Most sane people got indoors and would have been resting quietly during the hot noonday sun. Jesus did not have the convenience of shade and shelter though. Perhaps he should have left earlier that morning. Regardless, the transient Savior of the world found Himself at the edge of the one decent source of water for this town, and while everyone else was inside resting, He found Himself staring into the face of one of the towns more notorious sinners.

I don’t know that this event happened on the weekend. The Jews did not celebrate 2 day weekends, but a Sabbath that went from sundown to sundown. I suspect that if this was a Sabbath day, John would have mentioned it. However, it was a time of rest, and Jesus was tired and thirsty and needed rest Himself. It was a need for rest that brought Him to this well in the first place.

Yet this time of personal need did not stop Him from serving God and transforming lives around Him. As I mentioned above, this is one of the most famous stories of Jesus teaching and transforming the life of another. What would have happened if He simply felt too tired to even speak to this woman? What would we have lost today if Jesus had simply helped Himself to a drink, rather than asking for help?

How do invite others to help you in your own personal needs?

Where do you have opportunities to share God’s grace to others through your own needs or weakness?

 

 

Taking Turns and Making Turns

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Taking Turns and Making Turns

Jeremiah 3:6–18 (NRSV)

A Call to Repentance

6 The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and played the whore there? 7 And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me”; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. 8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. 9 Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says the LORD.

11 Then the LORD said to me: Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
Return, faithless Israel,
says the LORD.

I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful,
says the LORD;

I will not be angry forever.

13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree,
and have not obeyed my voice,
says the LORD.

14 Return, O faithless children,
says the LORD,
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.

15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the LORD, they shall no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your ancestors for a heritage.

God acts strange. In the ocean of sinners that cover this world, He does not simply wipe out the worst of us and threaten us with extinction if we don’t shape up our act. That is the way of fallen humanity. That might even be the way of nature. It is not God’s way though.

Jeremiah was the prophet sent to Judah, the southern half of former Israel, who deemed themselves superior because they had the Temple in Jerusalem. (If you would like to know more about this split, check out the aftereffects of the land Samaria in places like John 4.) His message, to Judah/Judea was that they did not learn from their sister’s mistakes of giving up their trust in God to make treaties with other nations. Whenever you see the word adultery in the Old Testament prophets, it is often referring to political/spiritual adultery more than sexual adultery. The Israelites entered into a political/spiritual marriage with God and he saw their treaties with other nations as cheating on Him.

Judah, did not just make treaties though. They made false idols of wood and stone – probably other gods imported from those other nations. They did not want to be seen as a backward nation with only one God while bigger nations grew around them. They sold themselves and their country out to foreign powers in hopes to attain mercy at their hands. It failed miserably. They lived – and history shows this truth through their story – that if you indeed “…will not stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Both nations were promised restoration, but the promise was not to every individual. God promised hope and new life, new shepherds, and a new start in this Promised Land to those who would turn away from past mistakes. As it turns out, God can save us from anything, but the one thing He refuses to save us from is ourselves. He will not bar us from following our own evil wills. Repentance means surrender. It is like taking our own will under arrest and putting God in charge. Rather than just taking turns pointing out who the bigger sinner is and blaming each other, God calls us to make turns in our own path, turning around and walking back to Him.

What sins in the world around you stand out the most to you today?

How do those sins affect your own life?

What is something you can do today to take another step in surrendering your selfish will to God?

God and Slavery

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God and Slavery

Titus 2

2 But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. 2 Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

3 Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, 10 not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.

-The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Tt 2:1–15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Proof-texting may well be the death of us all. Some people have looked at passages like this one, noticed the word “slaves”, observed the way Paul does not denounce it as the most vile thing imaginable, and then proceeded to throw out the entire bible as being irrelevant at best and sometimes calling it the root of all social evils in the world. Jesus, once pointed out that it is important to judge yourself first before judging others, something which applies to cultures of the past as well as those of the present. So, if slavery is a hot button issue for you (and it probably should be), here is some of the present data on how well your own culture is doing at eliminating it.

Now that we have taken a sobering look at the problem and realize that there are more slaves in our world today than there were back in the Roman Empire to which Paul was writing, lets look again at what Paul is asking Christians in general, and Titus in particular, to do.

  1. Teach consistent, sound doctrine. Don’t make it up as you go. Contexts may change, but the values and the mission of God does not.
  2. Older men should be temperate (balanced), serious, prudent, and solid in Faith, Love, and Endurance. (It was probably possible to technically be a slave owner in first century Rome and do all these things, but from our perspective, it would probably look more like someone who worked in exchange for housing. By that standard, there are some church pastors, living in parsonages, who would technically be slaves in America today. You could not be abusive to anyone and even be considerate “temperate”, let alone sound in faith, love, and endurance. If your goal is only to abolish slavery, you are setting the bar too low. It is a good start, but it is nowhere near enough.
  3. Older women are taught to be reverent. This means your actions and words should teach others around you how to act… because, whether you want them to or not, they do just that. We can complain about the younger generations but many were raised by parents, and a growing number have been raised by grandparents that taught them everything they know, either intentionally or unintentionally. Do our words and actions shine so clearly that our enemies are frustrated trying to say anything bad about us?
  4. Slaves. What do you tell someone who is a slave to do? Stop being a slave? Stand up for yourself? What if their slavery is paying for the survival of their families? What do we say to the people who have escaped abusive slavery, only to go back and buy slaves of their own to profit from? Paul here says slaves have the unique role of being an “ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior”. I think this points to the fact that Jesus became our slave, took our abuse, and did not retaliate. If you suffer in such a situation, you have the possibility of truly exemplifying Christ in a way that those of us who are free from such suffering are unable to do. Honestly, I’m not sure I could do that myself. I have too much of the impious, rebellious spirit of worldly passions raging inside of me. I may not be enslaved to any one person or institution, but I’m not immune to worldly temptations, addictions, or any other spiritual slave master out there. Too many times I have thought or said, “I don’t have any other choice.”, thus revealing the true master I serve.

What would it look like to be a slave of God, I wonder?
I imagine, as the story of the Prodigal illumines, God treats His slaves better than we treat our own children sometimes.
I wonder if I could do it? I wonder how my perspective on everything would change if I understood and believed that I belonged to God and no one else?

For those who slavery is an unredeemable word, maybe it is time we quit talking about it, stop waiting for our governments to do the work we are unwilling to do, and be like Jesus, paying the debts of those millions of slaves and freeing them from that bondage and abuse, because one way or another, that is what it is going to take… putting our own money, service, and lives where our mouths are.

Where does leadership power come from?

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Time and time again, leadership emerges from those who are able to keep cool heads under fire. Soldiers have seen this in the fields since the beginning of war. Keeping a cool head does not guarantee survival, but it gets the attention of those around who are struggling to be in control themselves. Control is central, or perhaps more accurately, the perception of control is what leads us.

Dictators rule by fear. They keep cool but spread anxiety to everyone around them, reminding them of the dangers, and make their voice the single point of authority. Firemen and Police use this tactic during emergency situations. No one takes a vote in a crisis – they just follow the loudest voice in uniform.

Monarchs rule by comparison. There is always a cousin or neice with aspirations to the throne, so they have to consistently point out how much worse the grass is on the other side of the bridge. They invite those around them to treat them with the care and respect as a symbol of how they feel about their own community. How do monarchs come into power? They submit to the public they they best represent the best face of the community and spend their time defending that symbolism. Homecoming kings and queens may not have the same kind of direct authority as dictators, but they get more airplay than those around them.

Bureaucrat rule by fear also, but in a more empowering way. They, like monarchs, present a series of options, but rather than presenting themselves as the ideal leader, they present the ideal choice as something they have a corner on the market and are the only ones who can deliver the goods. This is paid for security when it happens above the law and extortion when it goes on underneath. You may not know them, but you like what they offer and they send you the bill.

The last kind of ruler is the democratic leader. The democratic leader serves on behalf of the majority opinion. They are responsible for the sifting through the many voices and spotlighting the most prevalent ones. In a pure democracy the minority voice will always be drowned out, even if the groups considered “minority” change from time to time and in between different subjects. These leaders have the disadvantage of needing to justify themselves against any other potential leader.

There is a curious resemblance between the kind of authority projected by the leadership in democratic, socialist, and dictatorial leadership. Generally the shift from the former to the latter occurs with increased military or hired protection and the amount of political polls taken in the public decreases with the one exception of polls regarding loyalty to the leadership.

In all of the chatter about differing political groups, we sometimes forget that every level of authority is overseen by individuals. Even when those individuals lead as a team, they all have names, faces, histories, and aspirations. Battles are fought against nameless, faceless enemies, but peace is made between those who know each other by name. This does not only apply among leaders, the same applies for all people. In our age where information is the commerce of power even the most greedy and malcious minded of leaders will admit that knowing people is important for leadership. How much more so then for those who seek to lead out of benevolent motives.

The bottom line is this: leadership is about who you know.

““Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a strangerʼs voice.” – John‬ ‭10:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬