Willy Wonka: Do you like my meadow? Try some of my grass! Please have a blade, please do, it’s so delectable and so darn good looking!
Charlie Bucket: You can eat the grass?
Willy Wonka: Of course you can! Everything in this room is eatable, even *I’m* eatable! But that is called “cannibalism,” my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.
– From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) (via IMDB)
I’ve had the (mis)fortune of seeing some incredibly ignorant comments on social media lately. I know, what’s new right? But in particular, I’ve been shocked by a level of poison directed towards the Christian teacher Beth Moore over some statements she tweeted out. There was definitely some hurt in my soul as I watched some Christian men ignore the simple truth of what she was saying and instead twisted her words to fit their preconceived agenda and beliefs. There was no attempt at understanding, just an overall spirit of bullying.
But this attempt at coherent words is not actually going to focus on Mrs Moore and what she said. That’s already being done in other arenas. I will say that I completely agree with her though. So before we move on, I want to finish my thoughts on this specific item with these points:
- If you start a statement with “I’m not a racist/sexist/etc but…”, you should just stop right there. Because what you are about to say is racist/sexist/etc. You are not fooling anyone.
- From what I can see, the opposition against Beth Moore seems to be that she’s female and wise which tends to make some ignorant men upset.
- I am not an expert on the woman’s role in the church, but I see examples in the Bible of God raising up women when the men are not doing their job. So men, if you think that a woman should not be speaking out, then get introspective and ask God if you’re not saying what He wants you to say.
Now that I’ve certainly angered some folks, I want to talk about chewing our fingernails.
It is not a clean habit. Those that do it may be subtle or obliviously obvious about it. The damage is gradual but the impact is evident. It causes our hands to be ugly and our reputation is diminished. And our hands are not clean! By putting our fingers in our mouth when they are dirty, we expose ourselves to all kinds of dirt and germs that can harm our bodies.
I think chewing our nails is a good metaphor for what is happening when the Christian church attacks itself. It may seem small or without impact. Making statements about someone on Twitter doesn’t harm anyone, right?
But much like when we chew our nails, the world can see the truth. We are showing those outside the church that we are unhealthy and attacking ourselves. And by actively engaging in divisive and strife causing conversations, we are opening ourselves up to attacks from the enemy. The devil exalts in division and bitterness because then we are not focusing on Jesus.
My wife actually disagrees with the “chewing nails” analogy though. She takes it a step further. She views the attacking of our brothers and sisters in the church as the same as a person who decides to actively chew on their arm or leg. It is stupid, harmful and will result in irreparable damage to our body. She is not wrong.
But aren’t we allowed to call out sin in the Christian church?
Sure we are. And we should. But the issue here is that the most vile and spiteful attacks typically seem to be aimed at persons in the global Christian community that have a different tradition than our own.
This is what I mean. When teaching new church planters about the main practices to pass on to their newly established church, the widely accepted focus has been summarized like this:
(Most Important) New Testament Commands
These are: Repent/Believe/Be Baptized, Receive the Holy Spirit, Love God and your neighbour, Celebrate communion, Pray daily, Give, Make disciples
Includes: Baptizing immediately, using one cup in the Eucharist, fasting, worshiping on Sunday (vs another day), speaking in tongues, naming several elders to shepherd a church, etc
(Least Important) Human Customs
Includes: How we baptize, how we worship (ie. hymns, praise bands, etc), how we dress for a church service, dealing with alcohol, sanctuary design, etc
(You can find more detail on these here and here.)
No one in the church should be in disagreement about the New Testament commands. Sadly though, there are some people in the church today that look at the practices and traditions they have as being on the same level of importance as the clear commands.
And that’s when the cannibalism starts.
We attack our body over traditions and practices that are not explicitly commanded in scripture. Division is willingly brought and the god of this world laughs in delight as we take it upon ourselves to weaken our witness and shift our focus away from the commands we were meant to obey.
Friends, can we please stop eating our own body? Recognize and categorize correctly how you live out your faith in Christ.
Encourage and strengthen the church in the New Testament commands. Rebuke those that are in disobedience but do all things in love.
Act humbly and in unity with your brothers and sisters in the practices and traditions. Then we will be a body that is appealing to those looking at us.
This is important guidance for me. Too much Christian “wisdom” is causing fighting and not showing mercy. James 3:13-18. pic.twitter.com/EpGkWKwKvU
— Ryan Diks (@RyanDiks) May 7, 2018