Firing Shots at Fellow Christians
I remember this time when this friend of mine had a disagreement that turned into a fierce argument. We both shot at each other with bursts of sarcasm attempting to win what had moved from discussion into a contest. Problem was, this sad and disturbing display was semi-public, it was at the place where we worked and all around us were people who we had been witnessing to for some time. One of them addressed us in shock, “The two of you are fighting?!” That gave both of us pause, we stopped the verbal and settled on a silent moodiness the rest of the day.
We got over our differences soon after that and the next day we were once again the ones at work who laughed the most, had the better attitudes, and gave the best customer service. Our coworkers saw the light of our recovered relationship and, I suppose, adjusted their personal evaluation of the Christian faith as seemed right to them. All this to say, Christians sometimes argue, sometimes they get upset with fellow believers. But what about those who claim to love Jesus but are constantly nasty toward others in the faith?
Pride & Lust
One major cause is the fact that Christians can be consumed with Pride. Their haughtiness is based upon an inflated view of their own spirituality. They are so close to God that they trample underfoot their fellow believers. This was so epidemic in the church at Corinth that Saint Paul had to basically write them a riot act to read. They were so far removed from the spirit of Jesus that they were dividing the Body of Christ in every conceivable way: lawsuits, divorce, communion, and life-service. This particular ugliness passes as virtue to those who are full of themselves. Their spirituality is based upon carnal comparisons, “But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10). This spiritual grading system is based upon a curve that does not include Christlikeness in the equation.
Another cause of fratricide is Lust. The apostle James was straight forward in his question, Where do wars and fights come from among you? (James 1). He goes on to explain that selfish desire is foundational to the nightmare of “biting and devouring one another.” What a description? One would normally consider this as a situation that only the lowest common denominator of societal dysfunction could and necessarily would manifest itself. Like maybe a cell block full of wicked men with no other common ground than the cement under their feet. They, being filled with hate and rage, would surely be of a highly combustible nature; a powder keg of depravity ready to, and expected to, explode at anytime. But James is talking about the Church of Jesus Christ. How does that happen? It happens when we choose to justify our positions and look out for ourselves rather than desiring to work together and live together.
The disciples themselves were certainly not immune to infighting. They argued about who among them would be the greatest and this was just hours before Jesus would be crucified. Think about all that these men had heard and seen in the life of Jesus and now at the eleventh hour of His life; after all His teaching, and they are acting this way?
Sin in the Church
Sin is uglier in the church than it is outside of it. Hating our brother is like having an epidemic breakout in a hospital—the place where everyone goes for healing gets worse.
In the third chapter of I John we are made to understand that the vitality of our righteousness is defined by our love.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
In John (the Beloved)’s illustration above, one brother is killing another.
“My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
Maybe over time you have developed a suspicious and antagonistic stance toward other believers. Perhaps you have turned elitist over time. I know that I was there once . . . well, more than once.
Ask yourself this question, “Do I love the Brethren?” Ask yourself that next time you start to judge others around you.