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Friday-Biting and Devouring

 

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

 

Galatians 5:15

 

If you grew up in a home without more than one son, you may not get this. You might have to talk with someone who did to understand what’s going on here. If you did grow up in a home with boys, I’d bet the farm that you get this in a New York minute.

 

My brother and I wrestled and fought. No, wait a minute, that’s not right. We didn’t wrestle and fight, we were always, always, always fighting. We were continually and actively looking for ways to inflict pain on each other.

 

Now, my brother Don, who I love, was older, wiser, smarter, bigger, and stronger than I was. He also had access to more sources of information that provided him with new and more creative ways to torture me. Here are a few examples just so you can feel really sorry for me.

 

  • After getting his high school ring, he’d turn it upside down so the stone was facing the palm of his hand. With stone in place, he’d swing his hand and smack the top of my head. Stone first. This was replaced four years later with a much bigger and heavier college ring with even more devastating results.

  • There must be a technical term for this, but I just can’t find it. He’d come up behind me and snap my ear. This was achieved by placing his index finger on his thumb and then quickly releasing it on any part of my ear. The resulting pain was virtually undetectable when I went screaming to our parents.

  • We really didn’t wrestle because it was never a contest. The fix was in because he was so much bigger and stronger. It was more of a mismatch than Pee Wee football against the NFL. He just toyed with me till he got bored. His favorite move was the “Kowala Clutch” made famous by Killer Kowalski[1]of professional wrestling fame. This involved him sitting on top of me while digging the fingers from both hands into my stomach.

 

Yes, eventually I cried. Yes, my mom screamed at Don. Yes, he eventually stopped. Yes, I hated him. Yes, I plotted my revenge.

 

This is pretty much what’s going on within the Galatian church. There was biting between Christians. But more than just biting, they were chewing up and swallowing each other. It was just like wild animals that were in a deadly struggle like this lion taking down a buffalo[2]. Lots of running and chasing with only one thought in mind. They wanted to pull their prey to the ground, killing and consuming it.

 

This wasn’t a calm and composed exchange debate. This wasn’t an argument being played out on social media. It wasn’t talking heads yelling and screaming at each other, throwing verbal nuclear bombs. It was more like a scene on Jerry Springer[3] or some other daytime talk show, where people started grabbing and punching each other.

 

There was biting and devouring actively going on in the Galatian church. There were angry and strong words of bigotry that led to everyone getting hurt. There were no innocent bystanders. Everyone got mangled. Everyone was injured.

 

Yes, they were Christians. Yes, they were brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, they were Jesus followers. Yes, they were going to spend an eternity together with God.

 

But they weren’t practicing for eternity at all. They were disrupting and destroying the unity and organic life of their Christian community. And I’m sure of three things.

 

  1. The witness of the community was damaged, making it less effective.

  2. Non-believers looked on and wondered what they were fighting about and that they didn’t have anything worth looking into.

  3. The enemy was celebrating that the church had lost its focus, making it unproductive.

 

If you’ve been around Christianity for any length of time, I’d bet my last dollar that you’ve witnessed some of this. That you’ve even experienced it. And we all know how that worked out in the end.

 

Yes, there is a time and place for discussion and even disagreement within the Body of Christ. There may even be a reason to leave a church or denomination.

 

Jesus certainly was able to discern right from wrong. And he wasn’t shy about communicating or expressing it. But it’s to lead people back to God. Back to their savior. Back to the one who loves them. Back to the one who dies for them.

 

We were not created to bite and devour each other. We were created as God’s workmanship, for good works. Let’s be about our Father’s business.


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