A Deeply Flawed Human Being

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One of the first things a reformer has got to get used to is the experience of being despised and unpopular. Societies do awful things (that which needs to be reformed) because they want to, and the reformer is the one beckoning them to a state of affairs that they don’t much want.

“You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Ex. 23:2-3, ESV).

Notice what this passage requires of us. There are times when the doing of evil is popular. Many want to do evil, and they summon you to join them. There are other times when you are being pressured to bear false witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, in order to pervert justice. And if you didn’t trip over the next verse, you weren’t paying attention. It prohibits every form of affirmative action, along with all its ugly cousins. The man of integrity decides according to the law, and not according to whether the plantiff has had a hard life.

A reformer has to be the kind of man who can stand up to the clamor of the mob. This is the vertebrate mentality exhibited by Athanasius when he was informed that “the world” was against him. Well, then, he replied, let it be known that Athanasius is contra mundum, against the world. A true reformer gives the PR department fits.

The reformer marches to a different drummer, to not coin a phrase, but when he does this he elicits real hatred. There are two kinds of non-conformity, and only one of them wears hipster glasses. The kind that does wear them is a very popular form of pretending to be out of the mainstream, in order to be the envy of it, and the other is a radical form of unpopularity, calculated to get you slandered and viciously attacked, on the way to changing the mainstream. One kind of non-conformity requires courage, while the other kind requires nothing more than vanity and a five dollar cup of fair trade coffee.

The reformer will be attacked by the establishment in the name of a previous generation of reformers. The men who killed the prophets have descendents, and those descendents identify themselves by building memorials to the prophets (Matt. 23: 29-31). The men who lionize the prophets, Jesus teaches, are the kind of men who would have tied them to the nearest stake themselves. And the men who are charged with attacking the legacy of the prophets are the true sons of the prophets.

In short, the reformer cannot expect anything worthwhile to happen if all he hears is polite golf applause floating toward him from the establishment. And that reminds me of something . . .

Deeply Flawed

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