Believers killing believers? Sounds completely crazy, doesn’t it. Sadly, this is something that happens everyday, and this problem is more wide-spread than many realize. Take a look at this passage:
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. — John 16: 1-4
When we read this passage, if you are like me and many others, we tend to view this literally. What I mean is, the death brought by those we are warned about is a physical death. That might be, but I wonder if that’s all there is to this.
In the immediate context, Jesus was talking to his disciples, and many of them were killed for following Jesus. That we know, but could there be a larger context here? I know I’ve written lately about my struggle with fighting Christian corruption, and as I mentioned, I thought I was done with a head-on approach until I started visiting churches again (among other recent events). Now, I’m not so sure. I’m not sure what the right approach is anymore. As we often do within our Christian walk, I need to “think again” to make sure I’m on the right path.
Standing Against Those Who Kill Christians Spiritually
From where I stand, I’m more concerned with those who can kill the spirit, not the body. Didn’t Jesus say,
“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).”
Sure, he was talking about having a healthy fear of God over doing things that please man. But, there is more to this. When did he say this? If you read the whole chapter, we see similar warnings that were recorded in John above. Jesus said,
“But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles (Matthew 10: 17-18).”
Was this just for the disciples of Jesus’ day? I don’t think so.
There are those who are killing Christians today in spirit — and those who are most effective at this carry the name of Jesus on their lips — and many stand in our churches. Now, how does one handle this? That is my problem. On one hand, I do not want to use harshness because I cannot tell who is a brother and I do not know the limits of God’s mercy. But, on the other hand, some sharpness is necessary because this is unacceptable.
The other problem is I want to make sure I’m not someone who is killing brethren while thinking I do God’s service as I attempt to lead people away from corruption. As I’ve mentioned before, there are many who also go against Christian corruption, but in a lot of ways they are more damaging than the corruptions they fight (and they bring in their own).
I will not accept this in myself. If I am not careful, I risk leading people into legalism, unproductive fear, doubt, despair, or any other plethora of things that can manifest from too much harshness or lack of wisdom in approach.
This is not an easy thing for me at all. I don’t like ruffling feathers or upsetting people, though my temper sometimes causes upset, it isn’t my ultimate goal and I take no pleasure in it. But, I also feel like I’ve kind of run away from this task because it is unpleasant and honestly, I’m afraid.
What if I’m wrong and I’m going against God’s people all the while thinking I am doing His service? Others do this, what is to stop me from being in the same boat? Then again, I don’t want to lay this task up in a napkin because God is an austere man, if you get me. That’s the ultimate fear — and really, who likes to be hated? If things are as bad as it seems, I will be hated by a few at least.
There are things I need to sort out within myself, because despite my self doubt, I do not doubt God and His Spirit. It’s painful to see, but there are many Jesus-professing people out there who are killing Christians spiritually, and the ways in which this happens are vast and varied. Even so, I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. So, I will be taking a break for a while and ask the Lord to evaluate me because this is no small matter. I wish you all the best, and hopefully I will return soon with more clarity, peace, and effectiveness.