Could We Really Devour Each Other?
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if
you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
The first and most obvious application of these admonitions is to redeemed people. People who have the new birth inside of them, and the the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Love is a choice. That’s what makes it so hard for the divided life we live. The flesh continues to cry out for its own way. Always tricky, always subversive, always sounding “rational,” it tugs hard on the irrational call of God to love as He loves.
But, the broader impact on human relationships that fail to take notice and care to act in ways that this love would birth, is more dangerous than we realize. It can be catastrophic. Just as Paul says, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
This is the dangerous potential of human relationships that loose the consciousness of at least a grain of restrained dialogue, respect of opinion diversity, and, need for a search for a common denominator. The lack of these, and other similar characteristics, can lead to a ripping a part of people and nations that passes a point of no return. It devours itself!
As I said in my blog (Sep 28, 2021, The American Empire Has Died ), “Men are interminably different, and intellectual arguments rarely lead to agreement. Thus public affairs drift from bad to worse, amid an unceasing cacophony of argument. But this constant dedication to discussion seems to destroy the power of action.”
We are at a moment in our political history when the word “malice” seems to aptly describe the environment. I am embarrassed at the things that our political leaders say to and about each other, in public. Hateful words, like ones little children might speak to each other in retaliation, are now common place. It seems to me that Glubb describes our final stage of empire life well. What will be resolved that reflects healthy nation building, nothing!”
I could wish that someone among us could utter a few words of admonition, and love would take over. But, love as described in God, and designed to be able to be matured in His people, is impossible for the unregenerate. Their lack of the new birth, exacerbated by the complete control of the flesh within them, is further agitated by Satan and his minions.
As I stated in my blog of October, 2021, Our moment in time, “Against the rulers of the darkness of this world - The rulers that preside over the regions of ignorance and sin with which the earth abounds... The earth - dark, and wretched and ignorant, and sinful - is just such a dominion as they would choose, or as they would cause; and the degradation and woe of the pagan world are just such as foul and malignant spirits would delight in. It is a wide and a powerful empire. It has been consolidated by ages. It is sustained by all the authority of law; by all the omnipotence of the perverted religious principle; by all the reverence for antiquity; by all the power of selfish, corrupt, and base passions. No empire has been so extended, or has continued so long, as that empire of darkness; and nothing on earth is so difficult to destroy.” (Barnes on Ephesians)
All signs point to rough waters ahead for our nation. This is par for history and to expected in the ebb and flow of human decision making. Those who lead us will get it wrong more often than not. And the more that animosity grows in the broader culture, and among them as political leaders, the more they will bite and devour.
My greater concern is the impact of this cultural malice on the church, and the true Christ followers. The divisive nature of the malice culture we live in, has, is and will continue to infiltrate and impact us. The question is, will it devour us?
A few guidelines to consider:
Be careful about what cultural issues in today’s context that we think are so important that we need to make comment on them. The Bible may not be as clear, nor even as concerned, as we think.
Realize that we are only one part of a larger history and a larger world. Indeed, a world in which we are only a minuscule numerical piece, and getting smaller
Be careful about naming people. Disagree at the concept level, explain and defend as hard as you like, but be careful about putting people’s names to your disagreement.
In order to protect the people of God in all of this, teach them to think biblically and act theologically consistent with their new birth and the image of our Savior. We have not been good at this. It is still our greatest weakness: forming people to live and tell the Gospel.
Think once, twice, three times before you put some things in writing. If you say something out loud, you can always look to expand and explain. When you put it into writing, more often than not, you are stuck with it!