Good for No One
Monday of Pentecost 18
24 September 2018
Self-chosen works are a significant ethical danger to the Christian religion. We would have enough work to keep us thoroughly busy every moment of the day, if we just paid attention to the Ten Commandments and strove to be obedient to God by keeping them. There can be no better or greater works than those that have been commanded by God and which He inscribed with his finger upon tablets of stone.
Those who are pleased with their own list of good works will always despise the divinely commanded works such as obedience to parents. Thus, the world will not commend us for obeying parents, but it will mock us and ridicule our respect for parents and other authorities. For instance, a great deal of popular music encourages lawlessness and disobedience against the norms established by our parents and other authorities: Think of Twisted Sister's anthem to anarchy, "We're Not Gonna Take It!"
Perhaps we are reaping the whirlwind of the lawlessness in our culture right now. Our popular culture's pervasive rejection of the authority of parents and government breaks out into full-scale anarchy under the strains caused by a disaster situation. Unfortunately, even the political class is acting out now, breaking down norms that will certainly be hard to repair. The outcome will mean that we will no longer have peaceable and quiet lives where the holy gospel will have free course. This will be good for no one.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"For God's sake, let us learn this at last: placing all other things out of sight, that our youths look first to the fourth commandment if they wish to serve God with truly good works. Then they may do what is pleasing to their fathers and mothers, or to those to whom they may be subject instead of parents. For every child who knows and does this has, in the first place, this great consolation in his heart. He can joyfully say and boast (in spite of and against all who are occupied with works of their own choice): 'Behold, this work is well pleasing to my God in heaven, that I know for certain.' Let them all come together with their many great, distressing, and difficult works to make their boast. We will see whether they can show one work that is greater and nobler than obedience to father and mother. For to parents God has appointed and commanded obedience next to His own majesty. For if God's Word and will are in force and being accomplished, nothing shall be valued higher than the will and word of parents, as long as that, too, is subordinated to obedience toward God and is not opposed to the preceding commandments."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism,
Jeremiah 35:8-10, 16-19

We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard or field or seed, but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered."
But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me." (ESV)
O Lord, thank You for the gift of simple, humble works, like obedience to parents and other authorities. Grant that I might find true joy in serving those whom You have sent to serve me in Your name. Amen.
For all those who are returning to hurricane-ravaged communities along the East coast, that they might be safe in their travels
For all refugees, especially those who are ill, that the communities in which they find themselves might provide the support necessary
For all Christian relief workers, that they might be kept safe in their labors and that they might share not just daily bread, but also the Bread of Life with those in need
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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