Fellow Passengers: This week’s Pastoral Passage* (2 Peter 2) transports me to the storied pages of a book yet to be written, The DA Dotson Chronicles. Authorship will fall to two sisters-in-law, two women who have the dubious distinction of being married to two of the biggest DAs (dumbasses) the world has known, my brother Dave and I. We are both the proverbial airheads, absent-minded professor types, with little to no observation skills (no S on the Myers Briggs, if that makes sense), which leads to us doing and/or saying embarrassing things on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s a confusion of identity, like the time I ran into Governor Mario Cuomo in the airport in NY City, and knew he was somebody famous, except I spoke to him thinking he was Mel Brooks. Or the time I went up to get Gayle Sayers autograph at a celebrity golf tournament, and made a big deal telling him what a profound influence he had made on my life, only to find out when I looked at the autograph that it was the jazz singer Joe Williams. Other times it’s a confusion of place, like the time Dave and his daughter Jessica were driving around Atlanta, and stopped at Taco Bell to get lunch to go, and when they got in the car, Jessica opened up her taco salad and complained that the lettuce was wilted and they put on sour cream, which she had specifically asked not to put on. It was the last straw of a frustrating day for Dave, and he marched back in the restaurant, waited in line, plopped the salad on the counter and demanded his money back, because the lettuce was wilted and there was sour cream on it. The cashier simply replied, I didn’t make that. Dave got angrier and went through the schpiel again, and the cashier replied again, We didn’t do that. Dave asked to see the manager, and the cashier said, You might want to take a look around before doing that. Dave did, and realized he had walked into the Burger King, which was next to the Taco Bell. Just another chapter in the DA Dotson book, of which there are many.
Peter, in a stinging rebuke against the depraved heresies of those who have forsaken the true Way of Christ, has his own DA story to tell here. I don’t know what triggered Peter’s outrage, but the way he starts venting and spewing venom, you’d think somebody handed him a salad with wilted lettuce and sour cream. He starts in on the fallen angels, who God consigned to Hades. He proceeds to indict the wicked folk of Noah’s day, who found a watery grave. He moves on to the inhospitable denizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, burned to a crisp. He is comparing his present generation of evil-doers to these infamous rebels of the past, and is lowering the boom on them for their betrayal of the gospel, their infatuation with things of the flesh, their seductions and adulteries. They are experts in greed, he says. Having once escaped the captivating corruption of the world system, they have returned to it. They despise the authority of Christ, who called them to a different Way of life, a life of contentment, of love for enemies, of welcome for the stranger. They have left this Way for another, and so Peter goes through this tirade, building his case of judgment, from hell to flood to ashes, and how does he culminate his argument? With a DA story, a literal DA, Balaam’s donkey. Peter upbraids them, You people are as bad as Balaam, who got chewed out by a donkey - an animal without speech. That must be about as low as it gets, being hung out to dry by a dumb ass.
It strikes me as funny that Balaam’s ass speaking a word of rebuke is the end of the line for the unrepentant teacher of a false gospel. Beyond threat of hell, flood, and destruction, this is what Peter throws at them, the donkey’s reproach. It gives me some hope, though. As dumb as I can be sometimes, given my worst DA moments, it inspires to think that God can even speak through absent-minded DAs to call people to the Way of Christ. There are plenty of Balaams around, that’s for sure, folks who have heard and responded to the gospel call, only to try and meld that call with a worldly life of conspicuous consumption and prejudice and violence. If Peter is right, then these false teachers better look out! There are DAs on the loose.
How about you? Where does this Pastoral Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment, and share with friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, email, etc.