Weep and Wail
Thursday of Pentecost 14
30 August 2018
After a Bible study I was teaching in my congregation, a lay leader gently chided me for the ridicule I heaped upon some aberrant religious opinion or other. Of course, this leader was right in saying that we Christians should mourn for, weep for, and pray for those who have been so deeply misled by false teachers in other religious groups. We should not merely mock those whose false views are so dangerous and liable to damnation. We should weep over, not laugh at the spiritual foibles of those who are deluded.
This man's passion for the truth of Christ and its power to save drove him to be concerned about those who are being fed spiritual poison by religious hucksters. Yet, some false teachings require us to reduce them to ridicule, because they are so foolish and so ungodly as to be risible. Some things simply must be mocked. Even God does this to His enemies: "But you, O Lord, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision" (Ps 59:8). They don't deserve any better treatment than that. Martin Luther thought one of the most effective weapons against the devil was to mock him for his failure to defeat Christ. Some false doctrine should be called what it is: just plain silly.
Such mockery is not the same as ridiculing those who have been entrapped in such doctrinal flypaper. For such persons we grieve deeply and seek to rescue them from the dangerous ignorance into which they have been plunged by the hardhearted fools who have peddled antiscriptural and antichristian teachings. There is nothing more cruel than false teaching. Some years ago, when Steve Martin, the talented comic was at the zenith of his stand-up comedy career, he did a routine in which he suggested that it might be entertaining to "talk wrong" to a small child, so that when he grew older he would talk ridiculous nonsense when he went to school. Of course, the routine is funny just because it is ridiculous. However, if anyone actually perpetrated such a terrible crime against a child, the child upon whom it would have been worked would be gravely hurt. Here is the reason we should strive to take seriously the false teachings floating around in the world; because they are a crime against the little children whom Christ has redeemed by His precious blood. Some things are still worthy of mockery, but for these little ones we should only weep and wail.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Cassian
"Let us see what the Gospel of John says about this same grace of our Lord: 'Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ' (Jn 1:17). If Christ is a mere man, how did these come by Christ? How was there divine power in Him if there was in Him only the nature of man? Where does the heavenly largess come from, if His is only an earthly poverty? For no one can give what he does not already have. Because Christ gave divine grace, He already had that which He gave.
"No one endures a difference of things that are so completely different from each other, so as at one and the same time to suffer the wants of a poor man, and also to show the generosity of a bounteous one. The apostle Paul, knowing that all the treasures of heavenly riches are found in Christ, rightly writes to the churches, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you' (1Co 16:23). For though he had already often enough taught that God is the same as Christ, and that all the glory of deity abides in Him, and that all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily, still in this passage he is certainly right in praying for the grace of Christ alone, without adding the word 'God.' For while he had often taught that the grace of God is the same as the grace of Christ, he now most perfectly prays only for the grace of Christ, for he knows that in the grace of Christ is contained the whole grace of God. Therefore, he says, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.' If Jesus Christ was a mere man, then in his wish that the grace of Christ might be given to the churches, he was wishing that the grace of a man might be given. By saying, 'The grace of Christ be with you' he would have meant the grace of a man be with you, the grace of flesh be with you, the grace of bodily weakness, the grace of human frailty! Or why did he ever even mention the word grace, if his wish was for the grace of a man? For there was no reason for wishing, if what was wished for did not exist; nor should he have prayed that there might be bestowed on them the grace of one who did not possess the reality of that grace for which he was wishing.
"So you see that it is utterly absurd and ridiculous - or rather not a thing to laugh at but to cry over, for what is a matter for laughter to some frivolous persons becomes a matter for crying to pious and faithful souls, for they shed tears of love for the folly of another's unbelief, and weep pious tears at the folly of another's impiety. Let us then recover ourselves for a while and take our breath, for this idea is not only without wisdom but also without the Spirit, as it is certainly wanting in spiritual wisdom and has nothing to do with the Spirit of salvation."

John Cassian, Seven Books on the Incarnation, 2.5
2 Peter 2:1-10

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. (ESV)
Lord Jesus, You wept over Jerusalem when she rejected Your compassion. Lead us to true compassion for those who are being misled by false teachers, that we might reach out to them with the Word, which is Yours who is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.
For all women who are with child, that they would be kept safe and find joy in the Lord's blessing to them
For Janet Doiron, who is undergoing testing, that the Lord Jesus would be with her
For those seeking employment, that they might find work in keeping with their vocation
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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