Christian Cannibalism: Tendency to Auto-Destruction
by Missionary David R. Cox
Gal. 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Overview: There is a strange tendency in church groups for the sheep to become cannibalistic at the drop of a hat, and begin to bite and devour one another.
I have been a pastor and missionary for about 25 years, and I have wondered often at the dynamics within a religious community (i.e. local church) that tend to be cannibalistic. I have noticed it from time to time, and seen many examples of it, and every time it still surprises.
I think that we need a good dose of reality, and the truth is that we are in an intense spiritual warfare, where the pressures are often unobserved, unseen, but tremendous. People “freak out” as we used to say as kids. They cannot take the pressure, so they break, willingly, so that they don’t have to fight any more. That is the best explanation I can come up for this phenomena. Perhaps some are unsaved, but still it doesn’t make sense.
What we see is what Paul exhorted us to defend ourselves against, self-destruction. The Greek here behind “bite” is [daktnw] which means to bite with the teeth, to wound the soul, to cut, lacerate, rend with reproaches. “Devour” means [katesthio] to consume or use up by eating. To waste away, squander. The idea seems to be that Paul is warning us against uselessly destroying our spiritual resources (our brethren) by uselessly destroying our relationships with them.
In actuality, there is no spiritual profit, and great spiritual harm and damage in just getting mad at our brethren for useless, senseless, ridiculous, and unimportant issues. I have told my church that I often feel like the director of a kindergarten, nobody has the maturity of a 6 year old it seems like. Unfortunately I may have been too generous in comparing our Christian brethren to 6 year olds. Some have at least some maturity forming, but some of our church members are zilch, nil, nada.
How to Discern this Phenomena
This is pretty easy, just look for a lot of spilt blood on the floor, a lot of bloody and bleeding people.
When I find people in our church that are fighting between themselves, I ask why. After they tell me all the issues, if I still have to ask again, Why? then something is wrong. The issues are non-issues. We make them major issues when it is obvious they are not. I remember hearing of one church that split because they couldn’t decide on the color of the new rug they were purchasing for the church. Why is this non-sense happening?
Root Causes, Seed Forces
I think that a lot of this comes from unsaved people who are expert actors, and easily talk the talk, but fall horribly when they try to walk the Christian life. Even Paul makes this relation in the next verse in Galatians.
Gal 5:16 his I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
When we walk in the flesh, this has to happen. There is no desire, no plan, no direction towards being spiritual. These people are “just Christians”, saved but in their salvation, they want no more than “just going to heaven”, and they refuse to accept anything besides going to heaven. Well we don’t want to go to hell, but what these people are thinking is not that. They think that they have their heaven ticket paid for, but don’t talk to them about anything like a change of lifestyle, obligations of being a heavenly citizen, etc. The absolute limit of their religious relationship is salvation and no more.