Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Leader’s Dilemma : The Business of Christian Education XXXV

To hasten or to halt? To move or to wait? To go or to stay? To do or to refrain? To speak or to be quiet? To accept or to refuse? To compromise or to uphold principles? To intervene or to allow? To instruct or to listen? To keep or to let go? To fight or to make peace? To admit or to deny? To save face or to be honest? To march or to retreat? To punish or to forgive? To struggle or to sit still? To overlook or to defend? To create anew or to repair? To nurture or to rebuke? To expand or to deepen? To sacrifice or to save oneself? To imitate or to be original? To be angry or to be patient? To bind or to free? To continue or to cancel? To reveal or to conceal secrets? To unite or to divide? To add or to reduce? To dominate or to serve? To compete or to collaborate?

Those are the questions all leaders raise and at times finding themselves difficult to make the right decision. The reflection always goes: “How can I be sure that my decision is right?” or “How can I be sure that my decision will bring good?” The biggest question is always: “What is the truth?” Truth guides us to make the right decision. The problem of human race is always on
getting hold of the truth. The quest of philosophy is to seek the truth. Humans are always hunger for the truth. But, since the fall, humans always have difficulties of being certain of which data or information is true. But the thirst and hunger for truth is undeniable. Deep down in our soul we know that without the truth we are trapped. All those questions above would not be answered right. Even if there are only two obvious options to choose from, when doubt clouds the decision making process, one can’t run from being haunted with the question: “What if I make the wrong decision?” Especially when much is at stake. Without the truth, humans will never be free. The task of leaders is heavy. Jesus said in John 8:32,

“καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς.”

Translation: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will free you.”

The Greek word that is used for “knowing” is “γινώσκω” that is similar to the Hebrew word: יָדַע. The meaning is “to know”, but it is not just to know a proposition. The knowing projected here is the knowing in the intimate sense. Those words both in Greek and Hebrew are used to mean “having intimate relationship” (between husband and wife). So to know the truth as Jesus said cannot mean just knowing a propositional truth, but truly having an intimate relationship with the truth. Only and only then, the person knowing the truth may be set free. If we only know a propositional truth, we are still trapped in uncertainty and doubt. The truth that is meant by Jesus must relate to his word. John 8:31 gives clue to this.

“ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους• ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ, ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε.”

Which means: “Then Jesus spoke to the Jews who had believed him: “If you remained in the word of mine, truly you are my disciples.” Then Jesus continued to say to them: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will free you.” The immediate context provided shows clearly that the Jews couldn’t be Jesus’ disciples without remaining in his word, and without it they wouldn’t know (have intimate relationship with) the truth, and certainly they would still not be free. The gospel of John is unique in that it wonderfully connects the spiritual understanding of Jesus as God, as Logos or the WORD (John 1:1), and as the TRUTH (John 14:6). So, we can safely interpret that what Jesus meant was one must believe in him (for he is the WORD) in order to intimately know the truth (which is Jesus) that will set him/her free from the bondage of doubt, uncertainty, sin, and death. John 14:6 also highlights the fact that Jesus is not only the TRUTH, but he also is the WAY, and the LIFE. Confucius talks about Dao (the way) but he never found it. He points to the way, but he is not it. Jesus provides the WAY, for he is the WAY to the Father. And when one follows Jesus (remaining in his word – he is the WORD), who is the WAY, one finds the TRUTH, and in the TRUTH one finds LIFE and thus liberated from sin and death.

The leader’s dilemma can lead to frustration. Both the leader and the follower and also all who are affected by the leader’s decision will be trapped in frustration. Whoever has the truth becomes the leader. The problem, however, is not that simple. Finding out which one is true which one is not is the real problem. In the case of Adam and Eve, there were two conflicting statements. One was from God and stated that the day Adam eats the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he dies. The other is from the serpent which stated that eating the fruit will not cause death, but they will be like God, knowing good and evil. Earthly speaking, it seemed like what God said was not true and what the serpent said was the truth, for Adam and Eve were experiencing exactly what the serpent said, their eyes were opened, and most importantly, they did not die. However, eternally speaking, what God said was the truth, and what the serpent said was misleading, for we all have died in God’s eyes. Besides, we have not become like God, but instead we become outcasts, thrown out from heaven. If we ponder further Adam and Eve’s case, we should have realized that Adam was supposed to be the leader. For Adam was the one receiving God’s direct order not to eat the forbidden fruit. So he was supposedly the one knowing the truth. However, Adam did not remain in God’s word, he deviated. He listened to Eve. Eve did not listen to God, but she listened to the serpent. So in a way, Eve remained in the serpent’s word, and therefore she knew (had intimate relationship with the lie), and thus bound in sin. Sin led them to death. Adam could have cancelled Eve’s decision, for he had higher authority, but the problem was he did not believe in God’s word, so the truth was not in him, and that made him confused. Such confusion made it difficult for him to make any decision. That led Adam to submit to Eve’s decision, instead of him making the decision based on the truth, which is the word of God.

We inherit Adam’s dilemma. Making the right decision over just two options proves to be draining all our energy. Only when we know the truth making decision becomes easy. We tend to make decisions only based on the set of knowledge that forms our worldview. We regard the set of knowledge as the truth. While it might be the case, that we know some truths, many times those truths are not the entire thing. That is why Jesus provided the WAY. So we may consult with him always. Jesus knows the entire thing, so consultation with him is wise. But we will never be able to consult with him without believing in his word, and thus remaining in his word. Only when we remain in his word we know him, who is the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will truly set us free. A leader, especially, is in a great urgency to know the truth, otherwise he/she is in a grave danger of frustrating self and others. Adam was caught in this dilemma, and he made the wrong decision, and the effect is deadly, not only to him and Eve, but also to the whole world. So God, as the ultimate leader, had to make the decision to remedy the situation. Therefore the promise in Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman will crush the serpent. God doesn’t have any dilemma, for he is the truth. But we are not God, so we will always have the dilemma.

Therefore, all we need to do is to trust God. But we have to believe him for him to dwell in us and free us. In the world where many people do not believe in God we live in frustration. Our intuition drives us to seek the truth, but it is always difficult for us to make the right decision for there are so many competing information claiming to be the truth. For example, just in the case of our origin, there are several stories floating in the world. In the scientific post, many scientists tend to believe evolution theory. On the Christian post, we believe God’s word. Other posts have different stories to tell. If you are the head of your family, and you have to choose what to teach your kids, which story would you implant in your kids’ heart? For me, I believe in God’s word. Remaining in his word is essential for me, for it is life. We don’t live on bread alone, the Bible says, but through every word coming from the LORD. Adam and Eve made the deadly decision, because they did not live on God’s word. They lived on the serpent’s word, so they were bound to eternal death. Leaders must be aware of this. Not knowing the truth will only lead to death. The stronger the leader’s determination, the more ambitious the will of the leader, and the smarter the leader is, without the truth, death is imminent and the destruction effected will be greater than great. A leader is blessed when he/she knows the truth, but is cursed when not knowing the truth. The dilemma can be handled. The solution is by remaining in the WORD, and you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free, free from death, which means LIFE.

λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς• ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή• οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸν πατέρα εἰ μὴ διʼ ἐμοῦ.

Jesus said to him: “I AM the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE, no one comes to the Father if not through me.” (John 14:6, my translation)

No comments: