Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse


CANNIBALISM

By Mark Grant

If there is one practice among a group of people that has always been looked down upon with abhorrence and disgust in every society it is cannibalism. A cannibal is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “A person who eats human flesh or internal organs of other human beings.” Yes, that is right! Human beings literally eat other human beings. “Cannibal” comes from the Spanish name for the Carib people. When Christopher Columbus first came to the Caribbean and saw the Carib people practicing Cannibalism, he referred to it as “savage.”

Cannibalism is mentioned several times in Scripture; (Lev. 26:29; Deut. 28:53-57 ; Jer.19:9; Lam. 2:20; 4:10; Ezek. 5:10). But in each case, the practice is regarded as a horrible curse and inhuman act of desperation. Moses and other prophets predicted that, if the Israelites forsook God, they would fall into such awful degradation as to cannibalize their own children. These harrowing prophecies were fulfilled during the siege of Jerusalem and Samaria, one of which was during the reign of King Jehoram (2 Kings 6:28-29). Cannibalism was the physical horror which accompanied the spiritual horror of apostasy.

While the physical act of cannibalism hardly exists in our world anymore, it is sad to see spiritual cannibalism alive and well in our own brotherhood today. The apostle Paul wrote, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Gal. 5:13-15; NKJV) When most people think of liberty or freedom, they think of having permission to do things that please them. Such as, some feel a liberty to treat others any old way they want to. True faith in Christ however, does not focus on the flesh, nor does it free us to participate in or flirt with evil, but rather it frees us to love one another and to show that love by serving one another. The Lord has always taught his people to, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet the very reverse has been happening in our brotherhood. Brothers and Sisters in Christ are backbiting and devouring one another to the detriment of the Lord’s church and to their own shame. Brethren, after worship services displaying a shouting match out in the parking lot. Brothers in Christ coming to fist blows out in the front yard for all to see. Brothers and Sisters lying and making false accusations against their own members. It has even gotten to the point that brethren are bringing up things far in the past, things that other brethren have been forgiven of, and they are threatening to bring it all up and expose things that should never be brought up again. Anyone can look around and see the many things going on throughout the brotherhood; Brethren against Brethren, Sisters against Sisters, congregations against congregations, and all the while Satan laughs in the halls of hell. God has never lead or taught his people to “bite and devour one another” like savages.

Works Of The Flesh

First of all, let me say that there is nothing wrong with Christians disagreeing with one another or passionately defending our beliefs. This is how we learn, how we sharpen and correct our thinking, and how we help others to improve. It was Solomon who wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Pr 27:17). What is of utmost importance is that we learn how to conduct ourselves in the midst of controversies or conflicts when they arise, because unless we do, congregations are doomed to undergo more splits without the real problem (our mistreating each other) ever being addressed. Sadly, this kind of behavior happens all too often. In my lifetime, I, myself, have seen and experienced too many congregations that have gone thru an agonizing spilt. What is most upsetting is not the disagreement but the nasty politics we see that usually accompanies it. We see mean words expressed, the angry attitudes and childish behaviors, the awful displays of pride and selfishness, the backbiting, the minimizing of sin and outright disobedience to God’s Word, and the lack of forgiveness or interest in reconciliation.

When conflict arises, our attitudes and behaviors should reflect our new life in Christ with the old man being crucified with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). We have a choice to make, either we can walk in the Spirit or fulfill the lust of the flesh. Much of the contentious infighting and unnecessary division that plagues many of our congregations today results from believers acting according to the flesh and not walking by the Spirit. This was true of some of the New Testament churches as well. Recognizing the potential harm of such behavior, Paul, the apostle, addressed the problem in his letters to the churches of Galatia and Corinth. In Galatians chapter five we read, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:16-21). The apostle Paul also wrote the Corinthian church, “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (2 Cor. 12:20-21). When are we going to recognize, brethren, that “the works of the flesh” such as pride, anger, jealousy, and selfish ambition, can destroy a church family and its leadership. Is there a righteous way to treat one another when facing disagreements? Has God provided guidance in His word for handling conflict the right way? We can either chose to become a people of principle to follow the specific biblical principles that instruct us in how to deal with conflict or practice “the works of the flesh”.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

What is the solution to such biting, devouring, and destroying that is all too common among Christian assemblies today? The answer, Paul says, is by walking in the Spirit. Jesus taught the unique principles of humility, servanthood, forgiveness, and love as Paul wrote, “through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). As Christians we can obey these biblical principles in the local congregation so that we are able to work together in unity until Jesus comes again. As the apostles had to address these kinds of matters, they wrote down inspired scriptures that we can study as to how Christian believers are to think, act, and treat one another when conflict arises and how we can still live in harmony, even when we disagree with one another. That’s why the apostle Paul wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25).

How we treat one another as Brothers and Sisters in Christ proves just how much we truly love God. The apostle John taught, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4:20-21). If you want to know just how much a Christian truly loves God, then all you have to see is how well he treats his Brothers and Sisters in Christ and his fellow man. When you see displays of hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; then that Brother or Sister does not love God and is walking in darkness. “ He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes”(1 John 2:9-11).

Every congregation is going to have problems and disagreements. But when are we going to acknowledge that Christ has called us to love one another fervently, to be humble servants, to submit one to another, to patiently bear with one another, to speak truthfully, to forgive and reconcile our differences, to have right attitudes toward one another, and to display the fruit of the Spirit at all times and especially during times of conflict. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). God has always wanted his people to live in a way that would demonstrate his holy character to the unbelieving world (John 17:21-23).

The causes of divisions in the local congregation are many, but ultimately the main reason for a church split is that someone has taken his focus off Jesus Christ and begun to use the local church for his own selfish needs. Pride and selfishness will always be the main cause of dissensions and tumults within the local congregation (Prov. 13:10). If Christians would show forth the fruit of the Spirit who indwells them (Gal. 5:22-23), then there would be no discord and dissension. If Jesus Christ is our main focus in serving Him in love and humility, then there may be disagreement, but the conflicts will be worked out in a loving and appropriate manner. As for me, Brethren, I am thinking about becoming a vegetarian.