And he will bring justice to the nations. He will not quarrel, nor scream at people. You will not be able to hear his voice above the chatter of the street. In bringing discernment of what is good and right to the point where it actually governs human existence, he will not use even the violence it takes to finish breaking a stick that is already cracked or smother a smoking wick. (Matt. 12: 18–21, quoted from Isa. 42: 1–4)
We hear the cries from our strife-torn streets: “Give peace a chance!” and “Can’t we all just get along?” But you cannot give peace a chance if that is all you give a chance. You have to do the things that make peace possible and actual.
Silence is a natural part of solitude and is its essential completion. Most noise is human contact. Silence means to escape from sounds, noises, other than the gentle ones of nature. But it also means not talking, and the effects of not talking on our soul are different from those of simple quietness.
Of course, his calling and mission was out of all proportion to ours, and he never had our weaknesses, which result from our long training in sin. But his use of solitude, silence, study of scripture, prayer, and service to others all had a disciplinary aspect in his life. And we can be very sure that what he found useful for conduct of his life in the Father will also be useful for us. It was an important day in my life when at last I understood that if he needed forty days in the wilderness at one point, I very likely could use three or four.
We have Bibles with red letters to indicate what he said. Might we not make a good use of a Bible that has green letters for what he did? Green for “go,” or “do it”?
Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character. It combines freedom and power with service and love. What God gets out of our lives—and, indeed, what we get out of our lives—is simply the person we become. It is God’s intention that we should grow into the kind of person he could empower to do what we want to do.
Christian brotherhood is not an ideal that we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it. 6
We cannot “see clearly” how to assist our brother, because we cannot see our brother. And we will never know how to truly help him until we have grown into the kind of person who does not condemn. Period.
I can trust Jesus to go into the temple and drive out those who were profiting from religion, beating them with a rope. I cannot trust myself to do so.
Often the “eyeservice” that occurs in present-day church services comes in the form of trying to “move” people. “Wasn’t that a great service,” we often say. But what do we mean? Are we really thinking of how God felt about the service? What is the correlation between God’s view of a great service and the human view? We need to be very careful about this, or the rule, “Truly, they have their reward,” may apply to us.