August 14

Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19

“The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it.” vs. 13

In 1520 Pope Leo X quoted from this psalm in a papal bull called “Exsurge Domine” in which he officially condemned Martin Luther and 41 of his teachings. According to Leo Luther was a wild boar from the wilderness of Germany who was ravaging the Church, the choice vineyard of the Lord. When Luther received the bull, he burned it and the Lutheran heresy continued to spread. Leo was not wrong in comparing the Church to the vineyard of the Lord. It’s a solid biblical metaphor, one that was first applied to Israel. His error was in thinking that Luther’s intention was to destroy the Church. Luther loved the Church…but he also hated the abuses that had become a part of its structure and that were threatening its foundation. We can empathize a bit with Leo X. When a person is deeply entrenched in the organization of the Church it’s hard to hear any criticism without perceiving it as a threat. That even happens in our congregations…critics are treated as enemies and are often ignored or ostracized. But sometimes those who speak most negatively about what is happening in the community of faith are those who love it the most. For some it’s their special calling from God…they’re prophets among us, and their words can be the beginning of reformation. 

Thought for the Day: How are critics treated in my congregation or church?

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