HOLLOW MEN


In his poem, The Hollow Men, T. S Eliot depicts beings who are human name  only. Parodies of themselves they are what the writer of Jude describes as clouds without rain.

The book of Proverbs is about the value of wisdom and the vanity of foolishness. Ignorance is not valued by God nor should it be accommodated to by His disciples.
Those who were to assist the apostles as deacons in the early church were chosen because they were filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Wisdom without the Spirit is a charade and the Holy Spirit without wisdom is a disaster. There’s a place in Proverbs that says ‘The whole world groans when a fool become king.’ The best kind of wisdom is always the effect of spiritual discernment and revelation.

‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better’ Eph 1.17 NIV.

‘Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction’ Prov 29.18

The presidency of Donald Trump might prompt us to ponder how some people get into leadership. No matter what way we look at it, Mr Trump did not come to power by virtue of  the wisdom and insight of the population. Jesus did not have a hand in it, even if there are some Christians who think he did. But this post is not about the preposterous POTUS. It is about the presence of mediocre and unintelligent leadership in the Christian church. Let me explain.

GEORGE

George was a primary school teacher. He was never a bright student himself and he was far from able in the classroom. Nevertheless in the course of time he found himself chosen, then appointed as the denominational  head of education in  an Australian state - a position in which he was intellectually out of his depth, yet positioned to direct people who were far smarter than he and more able as teachers. But this was not a one off appointment. It was a pattern. The appointment of mediocrities to administration was not uncommon. People of barely average intelligence, limited education and sub-standard intellectual ability would often be chosen for what was called, ‘The Lord’s Work.’ Why? We will come to that in more detail later. But it arises from the difference between the culture of law and the culture of the Spirit.

New wine was never made to be contained by old wineskins. This is because the life of God is personal and infinite. In The Torch and the Sword, we are told that Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life is always moving, always diversifying, always going beyond old horisons into the new. Those who say ‘God never changes,’ are not speaking for Him. He is always Himself yet always advancing into new frontiers. To live in a state of becoming is one to the chief characteristics made in the image of God

INTELLIGENCE OF GOD

Bill was a poor student at school. He was in the lower band of intelligence at teachers college. Yet in the course of time he became the principal of a school. Sadly and unbeknown to himself, at staff meeting, he was the dullest person in the room. At this school it fell to the staff to make him look good. In such situations not only do personnel have to face the challenges of their work. They are loaded with the extra burden of getting good ideas past a leader who is dull and uncomprehending. It’s like an A380 Airbus being flown not by pilots but by baggage handlers.

The word of God - we are speaking of the living word here - the logos, is sharper than a two-edged sword. It is both spiritually perceptive and intellectually sharp. It is mindfully powerful and visionary. Discernment of any kind is a product of intelligence and the ability to join the dots, which is to see relationships and the interconnections of cause and effect.

The life of God is personal and infinite. To see Jesus is to see Father and to see ourselves. Jesus had the Spirit without limit and He represented life without limitation. He is life in every sense. As sons and daughters this is our inheritance. What belongs to Jesus is ours. We were born to live out of God. Conceived not to live from abstractions, philosophies or laws but from our Father who is in heaven - and who now is in us.

JESUS

Jesus Christ, contrary to what some teach, lived from His Father and in so doing revealed His Father as He is. In being the Son of Man and one with His Father Jesus also revealed what it is to be a son and a  human being. Like Jesus sons live from their Father. Never from something as puny and limiting as the law. Jesus showed the way and is the new and living way.

Jesus lived as a son of God. As a true son He was the expression of His Father and the perfect expression of all that it means to be a human being. Jesus was everything Adam and Eve could have been. Whereas Adam shifted trust in Father to a lie, Jesus maintained trust in His Father, flourishing in Father’s identity and realising in fullness His identity as son of God.

One with His Father Jesus lived without limitation. Which is what He has been able to give us life without limit. Law, it's compartmentalizations, dichotomies, inhibitions and is a function of the law of sin and death. Life without limit is the result of our life in Christ as sons of God. In the former we live in little boxes of limitation - prisons from which Jesus came to set all free. Alive in God we are free to be alive in the full potential of who we are made to be - never cowering from the truth, hiding from bold ideas or living in jealousy of those who may be more enlightened than we.

As redeemed sons and daughters of God we have been graced with His life. Grace is not a clever means by which humans can cope with the law. Grace is a life in us and for us that is not our own. This is Christ in you.  It is Christ our Life - our joining to Father in Christ and our union with the infinite life that is the trinity.

WITHOUT LIMIT

Today our focus is infinity. Because Jesus and His Father were one Jesus had the Spirit without limit. Because Jesus is the full expression of God He was infinite life in person. The life of the Spirit is infinite because it is the life of God. Thus Jesus came to replace our partial life with life to the full.

As a boy Jesus astonished the scribes and teachers of the law with His insight and understanding.  He lived, not from human categories of limitation but from union with Father. They and their law were bound in the cubicles and compartments of the knowledge of good and evil. They thought and spoke naturally in the categories of limitation. Law is innately limiting and constricting. It ends in death. Spirit is liberating and knows no bounds. Here one lives in God but is intrinsically free. In Christ we live, move and have our being in God. In Him we participate in  infinite vision and infinite  possibility. We live infinite the potential that we multiply as the new creation.

Death and the grave is the natural result of the law - itself a compartment of the knowledge of good and evil. A law-culture will produce dead folks walking and dead folks talking. It is innately anti-life

The stalemate and paralysis seen in the artificial division between right and left in current politics is the result of separation from God and imprisonment in the self-defeating culture of the knowledge of good and evil. Law as a stricture and a culture suffocates intelligence and dulls the mind. In business and in the Christian church it produces mediocrity and the promotion of fools to leadership.

Jesus came among us as the light of the world. He healed blind people as an example of what He can do for us all. Jesus was so alive with life that He was a threat to those who had made a life out of the culture of death. Jesus was smarter, intellectually superior and more insightful than any of those protecting their spheres of influence. He was ignored, despised and ultimately crucified for being the Giver of light and life.

THE HOLLOW MEN

Let’s be clear about what we are saying. In the Christian sphere, dim-witted leadership comes from a law-based culture that is intrinsically wedded to fear;  fear of the truth and ultimately fear of life to the full.

‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV.

Glory is found in Christ, in freedom and life to the full. Jesus came to deliver us from lies and draw us into the truth of God’s infinite life. We can live in this and benefit from the ministry of able and apostolic people. Then again we can remain captive to an ideology and belittle ourselves further by appointing faithful intellectual pygmies from among our cronies.

Should we live from the law today, or from religion and Christian culture, we are denying ourselves life and siding with those who revile life to the full. There is perfect freedom to be all we can be when we are captive to the Son of Man who sets us free from every aspect of the law of sin and death. He sets us free from taking refuge in mediocrity and finding solace in the comfort of lies. Jesus sets us free to be the new creation in spirit and in truth.

Whether he knew it or not, T S Eliot wrote of the effect on our humanity of life without God or more accurately are life that is not in God and therefore a life disconnected from the spirit of sonship. More exactly he could have been describing the kind of leadership that grows from the soil of a culture that has never emerged from the knowledge of good and evil into the Spirit of Sonship.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men. TS ELIOT.