Our Reaction To The Reed And The Flax

"A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory." - Matthew 12:20

The Church is often a very dangerous place to ask questions or demonstrate honest weaknesses.  The ministry of Christ was one where the frequent scene of spiritual education was a group of curious misfits gathered around the Master asking questions and processing answers.  Foolish or provoking questions were dispatched with wisdom while honest questions were received with love and answered directly.  Likewise, the drunkard, cheat and prostitute found in Christ a friend who would accept them as flawed while doing all that He could to draw them to a point of radical transformation.  Casting away the religiously self-righteous, Jesus of Nazareth bore the moniker of "a friend of sinners."

Fast forward to Christendom in the 21st century and we see that questions are often met as rebellion to authority and those with revealed flaws are viewed as cancerous tumors necessitating immediate removal to quell the risk of contagion.  In this way, we have fundamentally removed Christianity from Christendom.  True Christianity works in the order established by her namesake.  When the prophet Isaiah looked forward through the veil of time and was shown the coming Messiah, he spoke of His nature with poignant clarity: "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth" (Isaiah 42:3).  

Jesus Christ was not a weak character.  His sermons were not the popular tripe of the modern neo-secular "Christian" pulpit.  His message was one delivered with power and authority; a message with a direct call to repentance and a clear view of the consequences of spiritual negligence.  At the same time, the message was appealing to the outcast, the downtrodden, the unwanted, the unloved, the unaccepted and the otherwise unworthy.  How could it be that the Christ of the New Testament would attract such a crowd with a message such as He did while the religious caste was, for the most part, repulsed?

Consider what Jesus was always criticized for.  Being a friend of sinners was no compliment.  Those who clung to Him as their Teacher and Master were mainly a ragtag bunch of undesirables.  Yet Christ was open to their questions, patient with their weaknesses and willing to heal their diseases and, ultimately, change their lives and their eternities.  For this, Jesus found Himself to be the object of the ire of those who felt themselves worthy to enter the Kingdom because they were children of Abraham.  No wonder they were so terribly vexed when Christ told them that seed for Abraham could be raised from among the stones if need be.  He slapped their heritage in the face and disregarded their longstanding and parentage as meaningless without personal relationship with the Divine.  

The bruised reed would not be broken by the Messiah according to Isaiah.  In short, that which has already been injured need not fear further injury at the hands of the Savior of mankind.  Those who have been bruised by tragedy, disappointment, rejection, fear, heartache, the normal and abnormal situations of life and even those who have been bruised as a result of the consequences of their own foolish actions can look to Jesus Christ as one who will not destroy them.  One need not fear the severity of the Righteous Judge until He brings forth judgment.  Today, God desires mercy and, in the arms of Christ, perfect love and forgiveness is demonstrated.  To sinner and saint alike, the grace of God remains perpetually abundant and accessible.

Are you bruised? Do you have weaknesses which you have not been able to overcome? Are there flaws in your character that you have yet to be able to defeat? Don't run from Christ.  Run to Him.  Let Him take you in His arms and receive you.  Be willing to trust Him and the work He shall do.  While it may feel like He is breaking you into a million pieces at times during the purifying process, trust the promise of His Word that a bruised reed He will not break.  

The smoking flax or, in other words, the wick of a lamp which is only faintly alive with an ember of former flame shall not be put out by the hand of the Messiah.  The fiery zeal of a new convert is often extinguished by the trimming process of time.  One will not live for Christ very long before they realize it is not all Sunday night shout-downs and Wednesday night prayer meetings.  There is some real living to do beyond the doors of the Sanctuary which bring us back to the reality of having to live our Christianity and not only experience it in the safety of an institution.  Before long, the flame has died to nothing more than a smoking flax.  

So, certainly, we cast the wick away! Oh no! Certainly not! If there is even a hint of possibility for renewal and restoration, Jesus Christ will find a way to bring it about.  No one is ever thrown away by Christ simply because the fire has died, questions have arisen, problems and situations have caused confusion or any other number of means by which the fervency of times past has been replaced by a coldness.  Rather, there is hope in the person of Jesus Christ for the smoking flax.  The one that everyone would throw away and give up on is the very one that the Lord looks at and says, "Come to me if you are weary and weighted down." 

Christendom has responded poorly to the reed and the flax because, truthfully, they require us to be Christians instead of "Church people."  We are uncomfortable when they walk into our Assemblies because we have forgotten how to relate.  Yet we will often respond better to a sinner than a Brother who has become the reed or the flax.  It is far easier to feign piety than to practice godliness.  Instead of restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness while considering ourselves lest we fall (Galatians 6:1) we criticize, critique, berate and, in every way, provide an uphill climb for our Brother.  How foolish can we be?

To the reed and the flax outside of the covenant of God we must extend a hand of mercy, understand, love, grace, straightforwardness, honesty, clarity and hope for the purpose of reconciling them unto God.  To our Brethren we must extend the exact same hand coupled with the realization that we will need our restored Brother to, one day, restore us when we fall.  A bruised reed Jesus will not break.  A smoking flax Jesus will not quench.  Oh to God that a Christlike spirit would abound in the Church today that we, as God's Children, would do the same.


Russell Smith said...

Great Article ... Looking forward to your postings

T Jones said...

Beautiful and so lost in our churches today it seems. If you aren't dressed to a "t" and have all the right words, you're not a part of the upper echelon. Jesus had no ech. He has Men of God and order, those called and chosen for specific duty but no upper & lower in quality in Him, no upper ech. Love this scripture for many years.

Anonymous said...

Awesome words Jason.

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