I got all choked up Tuesday on the radio. I was talking about Francis Schaeffer and why he cried and the depth of it gripped me and I cried, too. Couldn’t help it. Marti noticed it in my voice and asked me why. I couldn’t answer beyond the fact that it was something Schaeffer taught me to do.
Francis Schaeffer’s voice was high-pitched and shrill. I used to joke that because of his Philadelphia accent he sounded like Elmer Fudd on drugs. But the more I listened to it, the more I realized it was a cry. The whole delivery was a cry. I can still hear it.
With his “Line of Despair,” Schaeffer drew a box, climbed in it, announced that this was what reality looks like to modern man, and cried.
Jesus cried too. It’s the shortest verse in the Bible. We used to joke about it when we were kids in Sunday school because we got points for the number of verses we could memorize and recite. Everyone knew this one: “Jesus wept.” He cried for the same reason Francis Schaeffer did.
Jesus cried at the tomb of Lazarus. Why did he do that? He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, for heaven’s sake. He was on the brink of one of His most triumphant moments. Why cry now? Because He looked around Him and saw the despair of the people, and the reality of their situation broke over Him like a 10-foot wave. He realized that when they put someone they love into one of these tomb things, that’s it for them. As far as they know they will never see that person again. That’s about as far away from Christ’s reality that you could get, but He went there and He felt it, and it was real – so real that He cried. It’s called empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
My wife often tells a story about friends of ours who were in the hospital having a baby. In the middle of labor, the wife calls out that she is cold. The dimwit husband says, “Why? I’m not cold.” SO? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? GO GET A BLANKET, DUMMY! The world is lost without Christ and what do we say? “Well, I’m not lost.”
Jesus could have said, “I’m not in despair here. I’m about to bring your friend out of the tomb. What’s your problem?” But He didn’t. Instead, He drew a box, climbed in it, felt what reality looks like to the people around Him, and cried. It’s a beautiful scene.
It’s different now. People are not struggling with the same things as they were in 1969, but they’re still struggling. We went from modernism to postmodernity and now we’re beyond that and I’m not even sure what we call the basic philosophical reality of the current western mind, but one thing we do know that without God people are lost. It’s so simple. People need the Lord.
HOW COME WE DON’T HEAR THIS ANYMORE? HOW COME WE ONLY HEAR HOW SCREWED UP THE WORLD IS? HOW COME NO ONE’S CRYING ANYMORE?
Last week I called a bunch of people, including Jesus, communists, just to prove a point, and got 42 responses and almost lost one of our members. Two days ago I wrote about the same subject I’m writing about today – learning to cry over the lost – and not one comment. Come on, people … what’s wrong here?