By Max I. Reich
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God.” The Jesus of sacred history is the Christ of inward experience. The life which was lived out before men so long ago is the life wrought out in men in this our day. All the qualities of that blessed life, the unfoldings of Divine nature, the results of the Incarnation are available today through the Indwelling. If it be true, that “no man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him,” it is also true: “No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us and His love is perfected in us: hereby we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” The blessed Paraclete in our hearts is the true extension of the coming of the Eternal Word in human flesh. Christ was God made visible through the lens of a pure humanity. And today He is made visible again in the measure in which we keep the lens of our humanity clean and transparent for His Spirit.
It was a great wrench to the men of Galilee when they had to part company with the visible presence of the loved Lord. It was exceedingly difficult for them to become reconciled to their loss. But the coming of the Comforter turned their seeming loss into gain. The Spirit brought their Lord to them in His resurrection life and power. The blessed qualities that had endeared Him to their hearts – the love, joy, peace, long-suffering, meekness, goodness, gentleness, power and wisdom, that had marked His life—were not really lost. They did not depart with his outward presence. They became their permanent possessions, being imparted to them in the measure of their receptivity. As they were commissioned to “shew” to others “excellencies of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light,” it is evident that they could not shew forth more than they actually possessed. Therefore the necessity of the inward Christ to reproduce the excellencies of His outward appearing. Thus they were able to exhibit in their own changed personalities the power of the message they proclaimed. The world of their day knew then that the otherwise obscure and ordinary men of Galilee were not palming off on credulous hearers “cunningly devised fables,” when with burning speech they made known “the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Their very appearance vouched for that “power” and demonstrated that “coming.”
We know something of the world into which the Apostles carried their message. In comparison with the writings of his pagan contemporaries Paul’s exposure of the vices of Greek and Roman society in the opening up of his epistle to the Romans, is couched in moderate and restrained language. And if we can hardly bear even to read his words, it only shews what a difference Christianity – or rather Christ – has made in the world, whatever we may admit of the degeneracy of our age. But Paul was not ashamed of his message, because it was the power of God unto salvation. In it was revealed the Divine remedy for the universal disease of sin, how God can make bad men good and keep them good, too, whatever their bias or their environment. The very “righteousness of God” as lived out by Christ, was to become the new nature of men. The Kingdom of God is the spiritual reconstruction of society. But except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God works by the spiritual reconstruction of individuals. Christ claims every man and the whole of man. His Gospel appeals not merely to the mystical yearnings of the hidden life; the whole of man and the entire scope of his human interests are to be brought into the Divine harmony. Christ understands men as none other. In His former earth life He did not live in cloistered seclusion, but was in the very thick of the battle of struggling, sorrowing, toiling and tempted humanity. Like the angel who delivered Peter, He came into our prison cell that He might bring us out. And in the same way in His present spiritual operations, He enters into sympathetic relations with human life in all its phases, in order to elevate it, to purify it, to hallow it and to make it serve the ends of His blessed Kingdom. Thus He wins and holds men of every type. The idealist and mystic—yes! But the merchant and artisan also. The poet and artist? –certainly! But the sailor and the farmer also. The scientist in his laboratory and the physician in his ward? –undoubtedly! But the weaver at his loom and the clerk at his desk as well. His Church is a truly catholic church which has a wider catholicity than any particular ecclesiastical organization. He has “all power” in heaven and on earth, therefore, He claims “all nations,” however diverse, as the legitimate sphere of His spiritual operations. He is, as the apostle Paul boldly acclaims Him, “the Head of every man.”
Our world needs this blessed Saviour. Its rulers and teachers need His inspiration, its merchants and manufacturers, His directions; its toilers, His strength; its homes, His peace. In Him alone can our distracted world make a new start. We have not only to pour out our treasures without stint to feed the starving children and widows. We have to reconstruct the spiritual ideals of men. We have to build up the world anew on the principles of the Kingdom of God—the kingdom of social religiousness, international brother-hood and peace.
Max I. Reich joined Friends in 1904. It was through the writings of a great evangelical Quaker, Stephen Grellet, that he was introduced to Quakerism, and he became one of the last of the ministers of the evangelical tradition. His son has observed that “his passing seems to mark the close of an era of evangelical fervor.”
The first seventeen years of his life he lived as an orthodox Jew. Then he heard the words, “he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Soon after this he found himself on his knees confessing his belief in Jesus before God. “Immediately upon this confession,” he says, “it seemed as if a great weight had been lifted of my heart and mind and I felt as if the Father himself had come forth and kissed me.” This decision meant a complete break with his family and the religious community in which he had been reared.
His message as a Quaker minister was closely related to his knowledge of Judaism and his personal encounter with Jesus Christ. His ministry was always aimed toward gathering to the Lord, and he knew that the God who seeks to gather all men to himself in Christ is also the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
After he came to settle near Philadelphia, he became associated with the Tract Association of Friends and was an active member from 1918 to 1944. During this time he wrote a number of tracts that were published by the association, and it is fitting at this time that some of these that deal with his testimony for Christ should be republished by the Association that he served so well.
Lewis Benson, 1952.