December 18, 2013

Keeping Ranks

Category: Miscellaneous,OT - Chronicles,Theology - Pastoral :: Permalink

F. W. Boreham, commenting on 1 Chron 12:38 (“All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart to make David king over all Israel”), tells the story of the Scottish lad who joined the army.  On parade day, his mother and sister were proud to see him marching but were surprised by something: “Look, mother!” his sister says. ” They’re all out of step but our Jock!”  Boreham comments:

It is not for me to decide whether Jock is right or whether the others are.  But since the others are all in step with each other, I am afraid the presumptive evidence is rather heavily against Jock.  And Jock is well known to all of us.  Nobody likes him, and nobody knows why they don’t like him.  In many respects he is a paragon of goodness.  He loves his church, or he would not have stuck to it year in and year out as he has done.  He is not self-assertive; he is quite willing to efface his own personality and be invisible.  He is generous to a fault.  Nobody is more eager to do anything for the general good.  And yet nobody likes him.  The only thing against him is that he has never disciplined himself to get on with other people.  He has never tried to accommodate himself to their stride.  He can’t keep rank….

Why should Jock destroy his own personality in order to render himself an exact replica of every other man in the regiment?  Is individuality an evil thing that must be wiped out and obliterated?  The answer to this objection is that Jock is not asked to sacrifice his personality; he is asked to sacrifice his angularity.  The ideal of British discipline is, not to turn men into machines, but to preserve individuality and initiative; and yet, at the same time, to make each man of as great value to his comrades as is by any means possible (“Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!” in Mushrooms on the Moor, 182-183).

Boreham elaborates:

Jock … may be firmly convinced that the stride of the regiment is too short or too long.  But if, on that ground, he adopts a different one, nobody but his gentle and admiring little sister will believe that he is right and they are wrong.  Jock’s isolated attitude invariably reflects upon himself.  “The whole regiment is out of step!” he declares, drawing attention to his different stride.

That is too often the trouble with Jock.  “The members of our Church do not read the Bible!” he says.  It may be sadly true; but it sounds, put in that way, like a claim that he is the one conscientious and regular Bible-reader among them.  “The members of our Church do not pray!” he exclaims sadly.  It may be that a call to prayer is urgently needed; but poor Jock puts the thing in such a light that it appears to be a claim on his part that he alone knows the way to the Throne of Grace.  “Among the faithless faithful only he!” “The members of our Church are not spiritually-minded!” he bemoans; but somehow, said as he says it, it sounds suspiciously like an echo of little Jack Horner’s “What a good boy am I!” (185).

Posted by John Barach @ 1:48 pm | Discuss (0)

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