“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, spare Thy people O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Wherefore should they say among the people, Where is your God?” – Joel 2:17
Solomon wrote, “There is time to laugh and time to weep.” The reflection is that, the Christian life is one of tears, ‘a life of a broken heart.’ There is crying in leadership. Many may see crying as a sign of emotional instability or lack of self-control. Jesus wept. Tears are normal, healthy, helpful, renewing and reviving. We must not be uncomfortable crying in leadership and even in our follower-ship situations. Tears that are shed over the work of God and the people of God are marks of humility (Ps 80). The ability to shed tears is “a grace” that allows us to express our ‘humanity and connection to other human beings.’
From spiritual lens and beyond her past misstep and every criticism, our Prime Minister, Theresa May, a very strong woman, wept in keeping with the urgency of this hour as a nation and even as a church. The reflection is that a divided leadership is the doom of any nation. The divided state of the nation and the church calls for weeping. We are more in a political game rather than an exercise of democracy with focus on what is profitable than what is prophetic and counter-cultural. We need to cry tears of repentance for assuming we have all the answers especially in fixing our global problems without acknowledging our need and obedience to God’s Word. In Christian witness, soul conversion is not about debate or ‘public display of intellectual prowess but the authentic witness, often covered in sobs, to the love of God calling people to repentance. Contrived tears won’t save men’s souls any more than winning pretend debates, soapboxing, or whimsical oration in the pulpit.’ The modern world and the church must rediscover the majesty and the holiness of God and the sinfulness of our “present sins.” We are in a time and age of a post-Christian mind when leaders want the nations and even ‘the church to function their way…they think… “God bless our plans and what we do.”’ The reflection is that you can know the Psalm without knowing the Shepherd.
Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet,” beyond his wish to have a “fountain of tears” with which he might weep for the slain of his own people points us to a leadership ‘burdened with sorrow and feel like giving up’ (Jer 8:18, 9:1). Jeremiah wept over the sins of his people and proclaimed God’s judgement through tears because of the sincerity and genuineness of his heart for his people. Jesus was a man of tears. He wept in sympathy at the grave of Lazarus. He wept in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wept tears of urgency on the Mount of Olives. His followers too should shed tears of sympathy, agony, and urgency because of the day in which we live.
With Jesus as our model, let us look at three things that Adrian Rogers suggests ought to cause us to weep. Jesus wept because of the peoples’ superficial religion. As it was in the time of Jesus, the world and the church in the seductions of today’s culture are experiencing superficial democracy and spirituality. For example the British referendum that brought us into the Brexit chaos, divisions, hatred and the uncertainty of the future continue to promote ‘hostile environment.’ Our Prime Minister Theresa May cannot perform magic in the midst of a divided Tory leadership and government, hence she was frustrated. Indeed, it is time to weep between our democratic and religious porch in quest of God’s mercy. Enough of falsehood in our democracy and spirituality. Any serious leader would weep over our superficial politics and religiosity.
It is time to weep between the porch (our sinful state) and the altar (God’s holiness) just as Jesus wept because of the peoples’ passing opportunity. Our leaders and the church in general have more opportunities than any generation ever had but the sad news is that we are letting the harvest pass. When Jesus came close to Jerusalem, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Lk 19:41). The Gospel reading today points us to the source of our peace as a nation and as a church. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching … He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” Our love for God as we obey His Word opens the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to grant us peace including good governance and revival (Jn 14:23-29). The warning is that ‘when a harvest is neglected, it passes then judgement comes.’
Let us pray for the next British Prime Minister in the face of a key leadership test ahead