Once again, I will start with the disclaimer, that I do not feel that the Beatles have lived a life worth emulating as a Christian, but they seemed to have learned a lesson that the modern church still struggles with. I almost entitled today’s post from the 1972 song “Where is the Love” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway but I wanted to stay consistent with the previous two posts. I want to confront the need for skeptics of certain fringe/borderline cult movements to take joy in mocking people. I think the smiles they produce with glee as they disparage other people is heart wrenching in and of itself.
I think one thing is clear that neither Jesus nor Paul had no problem using sarcastic wit to make a point.
- Matthew 3:7 NASB – 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
- Luke 3:7 NASB – 7 So he [began] saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
- 2 Corinthians 11:5 ESV – 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.
- 2 Corinthians 12:11 ESV – 11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing.
However, these comments were not made with joy but instead with much sorrow:
- Matthew 23:37 ESV – 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
- Romans 9:1-3 ESV – 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit– 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
I think the ultimate statement of where our hearts truly lies in regards to those who engage in excess knowingly or unknowingly is “How much time do we spend mocking vs lamenting?” The unspoken theology is that God takes pleasure in the failure of others. How did David respond to the fall of Saul?
- 2 Samuel 1:23-27 ESV – 23 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions. 24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! “Jonathan lies slain on your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. 27 “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
David was not just upset because he lost a dear friend Jonathon to Saul’s apostasy, he also lamented the loss of Saul who initiated the apostasy. And while I may what I feel justified regarding the question of taking money to impart spirituality; I likewise shed light on those who with a smirk at their failures, making money on YouTube videos while raising awareness of the error.
I recently heard a quote from a Bible Scholar by the name of Dr. Michael S. Heiser regarding ritual impurity that I think can also apply here. He said:
- “And all the things in the Levitical system that render someone ritually impure are things that are unavoidable in life. They’re not designed to teach the Israelites anything about how awful they are. They’re designed to teach the Israelites how human they are, and how other, non-human, how above human God is.” (From YouTube video What or WHO is AZAZEL)
The rise of the extreme Word of Faith movement took prominence during the great depression, when Kenneth Hagin was attempting to respond to the “woe is me” attitude of churches on how depressing the future was. The new apostolic and prophetic movements have arisen out of a time when science and atheism is the predominate culture world view. Does this justify taking a basic need and running with it to the Nth degree? No, a thousand times over. But unfortunately it does show just how human we are to respond to one extreme with another. And now the cycle repeats itself. Sometimes we substitute criticism for discernment and run with it.
So before casting stones with glee, we need to ask ourselves; “Are we loving as Jesus would want us too, with sorrow? Or are we rejoicing in the failures of others as to how right we are?“ So as always, I encourage one and all to love much my friends . . .