Monday, November 26, 2007

Do Not Devour Each Other

I wrote this as a sermon for Homiletics, but I am trying to edit it a little bit for our purposes here. I will break it up into three (or so) segments.

"If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." - Gal. 5:15

Galatians 5:13-18 acts as a crucial balancing statement to the previous exhortations in Galatians. The church there was divided—many believed that it was through following the Law that one might be saved and others (rightfully) condemned this belief. This misguided belief is what Paul has spent time correcting up to this point in the letter. Yet Paul warns the Galatians to move past their differences, telling them that if they keep “biting each other” they will “devour each other." Christians today are (obviously) just as fragmented and divisive as ever, with so many denominations, each composed by individuals with theological and practical differences. There is room in the Church for our differences—they are part of what make the body of Christ beautiful and colorful. But there is a danger that we hold onto these differences too tightly and alienate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and eventually devour each other with angry words.

I suppose there is always a danger to exclude, judge, look down on those brothers and sisters with different theological views, worship practices, etc. It is perhaps because of this tendency that so many people have been hurt by the Church—turned off by its hypocrisy or hurt by its misspent zeal. There is room for dialogue and opposing views on issues (my commitment to nonviolence, for instance.) I used to love listening to preachers just so I could discover how they had misquoted or misused a passage in Scripture. I suppose I'm trying to learn to let go of finding identity in being right or being part of the correct group of people or reading the right books. Otherwise, I will only continue this process of the Church “devouring” its own people. In the case of the Galatian church, it seemed to make little difference that the group who opposed the ones who wanted to follow the Law was really the “right” one; they too would devour and be devoured if they did not let go of their differences.

--John Orzechowski

1 comment:

living stones said...

John-- Good message. Thanks for posting it. I especially appreciate your comment that "it seemed to make little difference that [one] group . . . was really the 'right' one." This is important to be constantly aware of--especially if we want to be a counter cultural presence. I sometimes have trouble with humility (in attitude and epistemology) with those I perceive as being in the 'religious majority.' (That might be a reductive category.) Whereas someone might be arrogant about "the truth," I might be arrogant about "the truth about truth." (I had someone point that out to me last week [sheepish smile].) So, thanks. --Paul Corrigan

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