Posted on Wed, Apr 13, 2011
April 13, 2011 Joe Doolittle
31st Day of Lent Hebrews 5:5-10
In the passage Paul places Jesus, for his audience the Hebrews, in the tradition of all the High Priests past and more so. In referencing Melchizedek the priest who first welcomed the victorious Abram in Genesis, Paul defines Jesus in stature, and then places him beyond the history of the Hebrews, by noting that through his obedience to God he has indeed brought us Salvation, as we obey and follow him. A blessing no mortal high priest could produce. Paul continues in the balance of and subsequent chapters to describe the implications this reality has for human-kind’s understanding of Jesus and life, which has a new Covenant through Him. A reality that is”living and active” in the world.
In my personal and professional consulting life, I’ve reflected at times “What would Jesus do?” “How do I reflect Salvation? Robert Greenleaf, a noted AT&T executive and later leadership policy trend setter, uses the Gospel message as a guide for individuals who would lead organizations. In his book Servant Leadership* published in 1977, he describes the practice of a method of leading, not by power, but by presence, by the influence of example” and by demonstrating care of people, as well as, institutions. What I admire most is how he outlines a way of acting on the Gospel in daily and corporate life. One primary reference is that the effective leader must be “servant first. With a following conscious choice that brings one to aspire to lead.”
Greenleaf’s book, like the New Testament and Hebrews can be complex read, or they can be references on the blessing of acting in the world through the love of Christ. Among his examples, other than his New Testament references. are several literary characters, notably Leo in Herman Hesse’s Journey to the East, and Robert Frost’s poetry. Of three historical figures, I knew only one Thomas Jefferson. To tease you, the reader a bit, one of the others was a Quaker, John Woolman, who in the mid 1800s was distraught over the fact that his breathern held slaves in seeming contradiction of the faith. He didn’t start a protest movement. He began a campaign of thoughtful questioning and persuasion, and kept at it over 30 years. The result was that by 1770 no Quakers held slaves. The abolition had occurred through persuasion, not a bloody war. Think of the implications of our history, had the practice been active over the 90 years between 1770 and 1860? In Vietnam? In the Middle East?
And so Paul in Hebrews places Jesus in the tradition of more than high priest. His presence is not to overwhelm the world, but through his loving obedience to God and example to help us realize we are blessed with a hopeful Covenant that can be “living and active “as we seek to act positively in the world.
*Greenleaf, Robert K. Servant Leadership – A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, Paulist Press, NY, 1977. Republished 1983 and 1990. Also see http://www.greenleaf.org/ - GreenleafCenterfor Servant Leadership
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