If the Lord were to appear this day in your land as once in Palestine, he would not come in the halo of the painters, or with that wintry shine of effeminate beauty, of sweet weakness, in which it is their helpless custom to represent him. Neither would he likely come as carpenter, or mason, or gardener. He would come in such form and condition as might bear to the present America, or England, or France, a relation like that which the form and condition he then came in, bore to the motley Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. If he came thus, in form altogether unlooked for, who would they be that recognized and received him? The idea involves no absurdity. He is not far from us at any moment—if the old story be indeed more than the best and strongest of the fables that possess the world. He might at any moment appear: who, I ask, would be the first to receive him? Now, as then, it would of course be the childlike in heart, the truest, the least selfish. They would not be the highest in the estimation of any church, for the childlike are not yet the many. It might not even be those that knew most about the former visit of the Master. It would certainly be those who were most like the Master—those that did the will of the Father, that built their house on the rock by hearing and doing his sayings. But are there any enough like him to know him at once by the sound of his voice, by the look of his face? There are multitudes who would at once be taken by a false Christ fashioned after their fancy, and would reject the Lord as a poor impostor. One thing is certain: they who first recognized him would be those that most loved righteousness and hated iniquity.
by Leah Morency
I once watched a documentary about a famous yearly fashion show held in Europe, and the narrator seriously stated that all of the "most important people in the world" were in attendance. Importance, to many people's estimation would be characteristic of attendees at this fashion show.
Ironically this type of bankrupt value system is paralleled in many church institutions whose walls are lined with somber and serious portraits of the venerated founding leaders, who similarly hold their own types of shows for each other to show off their very public visible service.
MacDonald wrote, if Christ came, "who, I ask, would be the first to receive him?"
Who would know Christ if he came today? Would you or I? Are we a motley enough crew? MacDonald described those among whom Christ would be most welcome, heard and received, as motley.
Motley is defined as "incongruously varied in appearance or character; disparate." So, generally not fitting in to the mold of the powerful in the religious or political or financial world. Yet there is more than just "not fitting in" with the world's most important.
We can learn from the Old Testament story of the anointing of David and how it is like the coming of Christ.
11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here."
12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he."
1 Samuel 16:11-12
This passage tells us that the most important man in the world, David, was busy keeping sheep, the most humble and gritty of jobs, yet the key to survival for all. David's own brothers did not see or recognize him for what he was, it was the Lord's voice that revealed his anointing to even his closest family.
In Isaiah, the description of the coming Lord is again humble and counter the expected:
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like
a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that
we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
- Isaiah 53:2q
The Lord is here already, active in the hearts of those who are serving the widows and orphans, the powerless and poor and weak and hungry. Iniquity is every construct of man that tears down the protection of the widow, orphan, weak and powerless.
The Lord is giving himself and being received and bringing many to life in the humble and gritty realities of those who are listening to His voice. Returning to MacDonald's question, "who, I ask, would be the first to receive him?" --those who are humbly giving and receiving Him even now.
I want to leave with this relatively new hymn by Sojourn whose words aptly apply.