“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The outside activity

“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Tim. 2:5).

“The offence of the cross.” (Gal. 5:11).

“As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom. 9:33).

When I was in the Navy we had high expectations to meet. We had hundreds of standard operating procedures to follow, lots of equipment maintenance to keep up; we had leadership skills to know in order to keep the crew processional and motivated and focused on the mission. We had to operate our equipment effectively. There was much to accomplish, and many opportunities for failure.

Two basic motivations drove us to do our job right—the praise from success and the punishment for failure; “liberty” or the time off away from the ship as a reward for a job done well, or the removal or restricting of “liberty,” longer hours onboard, as discipline for a job done poorly. And we would periodically have inspections by the Squadron office or higher commands to ensure our honesty in compliance to the Navy standards in all areas of expertise, listed above.

Normally, throughout the Navy, the commanding officers and their junior officers and chiefs keep enough pressure on the crews of the ships that good order and discipline remain healthy, and the rewards and threats of punishment keep the men on task, and the various commands safely operate and accomplish their missions. Normally, if there is a weak link in the chain of command from the officers down to the seamen, and signs of a failure in some area of performance begins to show, that person will be disciplined, along with his subordinates who were learning to fail because of him.

This may sound unfair to the subordinates, but that’s the Navy way and it’s probably that way in all the military services. The reason the discipline is so severe is because problems need to be fully corrected, whether the discipline is given through a captain’s mast or a non-judicial punishment, or a letter of instruction, all of which remain in the person’s service record and affect future promotion and pay raises. Each problem must be fixed in-house. If the problems are not fixed onboard the alternative is much graver.

That alternative is for the Squadron to order an outside military activity to go onboard the problem ship, to investigate where the failure happened, and to give recommendations for discipline and for doing the job or jobs correctly. This is a very serious matter. It says to the captain that he has failed at the Navy’s trust in him to command a ship and crew, as well as did whatever department or division of the crew that were the primary cause of the ship’s failure in its mission. In fact, the whole crew suffers even though only a part of the ship causes the outside activity to get involved.

The involvement of the outside activity means that the ship couldn’t do its job at keeping itself straight, so someone else must do it for them. It means that good order and discipline collapsed, that the command climate failed, that in-house discipline ceased. The “help” from the outside activity means punishment, shame, condemnation to the ship and all leaders personally involved: and the shame is mostly concentrated at the top of the chain of command. That is, the captain will never move up in the Navy, but remain at his rank until he retires.

Nobody likes to see this happen. The squadron commander personally knows each commanding officer in his fleet and hates to punish any one of them. Discipline is a terrible ordeal; nevertheless, it must take place.

So help doesn’t always feel good. It can be very painful. It leaves scars for life. But, even though an individual member feels the shame and his failure is never forgotten by himself, by his peers, or by the higher organization, at least everyone under his care remains safe and the larger organization, i.e. the U.S. Navy, can accomplish its work. Any company or corporation, any branch of government or religious denomination must abide by the same rules as the military services. Without the effort and energy it takes to correct failures, sooner or later catastrophic failure happens, and the whole organization collapses, never to return to its former strength.

God has His government. Its rules of operation are austere. He cannot allow for any rebellion or His kingdom cannot stand. But His favorite creation fell into disobedience and threatened the eventual collapse of His entire kingdom if He did not destroy the human race before it spread its evil influence around the universe. If He just overlooked the disobedience because He had pity, then before long all good order and discipline would have been dissolved and disorder would have run rampant everywhere; and Satan would have triumphed.

So God immediately stepped in with His plan of salvation for Earth. He and His Son would assume responsibility for Adam’s failure if Adam and his family would respond to this sign of God’s goodness toward them. But forever afterward, God would require the right to be intimately involved in their affairs, to give them the counsel and guidance that would be needed to restore them to their former glory. His help might be viewed a punishment, as permanent shame and humbling, but our Mediator, Christ our surety, must be our outside activity to help us out of situation that of ourselves we were helpless to get out of.

The propitiation of Christ forever brands humility into all who accept it because it proclaims to the world and to the universe that those who take part of it are not strong enough, smart enough, moral enough, good enough. They are failures at everything. This message to sinners is the offence of the cross. It is only for the few who will submit to its demolition of the sky-high human pride. Having a Mediator is a glorious provision, but the ramifications in our humbling are broad and deep. If we accept His mercy and are spared destruction, then we must also accept the humiliation that goes with the package of salvation. And happily accepting humiliation will mark the redeemed throughout endless ages. Thus, they will be like Jesus who humbled Himself and became a man of no reputation. Their humiliation will never be looked upon as a grievous chore, but a badge of honor. Thus, “His name shall be in their foreheads.” (Rev. 22:4).

God should not suffer alone because of us. And He won’t. In His omniscience, He made provision for us to be united with Him in His suffering our sinfulness, for us to be yoked up forever with our Redeemer, together in shame and humility.

Once redeemed, His kingdom is forever safe and we are forever humbled. And that’s the way it should be. The offence of the cross will remain forever in a race who glory in their humiliation and in God’s grace. And sin will never rise up the second time. Amen!


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