But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
There’s a certain irony that in the Church we allow the members of the congregation to bite and devour one another whilst insisting that our Church leaders are passive to the point of being unable to fulfill their God given role.
I’m impressed and encouraged that the book of Galatians is actually included in the canon of Scripture. The reason I’m so encouraged is that it displays Paul’s assertive, affirmative attitude towards dealing with those who would destroy the Church from within for their own ends.
So often in our local fellowships we allow backbiting and gossiping and nastiness founded on jealousy whilst forbidding our leaders from being ‘authoritarian’ or ‘dogmatic’ or ‘assertive’. In our understanding of Jesus and of Paul we play down those assertive episodes and try to explain them away in terms of passion. The inclusion of Galatians in Scripture affirms that it is not only acceptable to contend vigorously for the faith, but it is desirable. Just listen to Paul’s argument (paraphrased): you stupid congregation; I’m astounded at your desertion; I wish the circumcisers would cut the whole lot off!
I dare you to read Galatians in church as I believe Paul spoke it! There is real anger, and passion, and argument: “Tell me, then, you law pushers, don’t you LISTEN to the law?” – spoken with anger, sarcasm and a hint of incredulity! We’re wary of this, but allow the biters and devourers! How can this be?
Let’s seek for and allow for Godly leaders of character who love God with all their hearts and defend the Gospel with heart, soul, mind and strength and who assert the priority of the Gospel over the whisperers and biters and devourers, those who sneak in and with quiet words divert the weak to that which is not the Gospel.
Jesus is love, but He is also dangerous! Paul loved Christ and the Church with a passion none of us will come close to, but he was assertive in promoting and defending the Gospel in love. Let’s pray for and seek for dangerous leaders – not ones who will passively sit and watch the flock bite and devour, but ones who will actively share the Gospel, preach the Good News, act to defend the truth and the believers in truth for the glory of God and the building up of the body of Christ. This is not a blank cheque to promote a proclamation of the Gospel that is aggressive or un-loving. The truth is always to be spoken in love, and yet the truth is the truth, it is ultimate reality, it is our hope, our peace, our life in Christ. Then let us believe it and maintain it with passion, persistence, purpose and in the face of whisperers, backbiters, devourers to assert that truth for the sake of His Church.