I ran into a friend today at the local coffee connection. She said she ran out of gas this morning on her way to work. After expressing how sorry I felt for her she explained exactly what she meant by running out of gas. What she meant by running out of gas is that the little “low fuel” warning light popped on that morning. Oh! I exclaimed, that’s not running out of gas – that’s normal operating range for me. She went on to explain that she just hates it when the “idiot light” comes on – it makes her feel so stupid. Wow, I said, then I live in the “idiot light” zone. What made the conversation more ironic was that I really had run out of gas – just yesterday! I was temporarily stranded on the side of a very busy road – waiting for my daughter to rescue me with the spare gas can.
That conversation took my brain out of idle and shifted me into another gear. Living in the “idiot light” zone seems a common theme for me. I haven’t traditionally been very good at paying attention to warning lights. I’m a “foot on the gas” at the yellow light kind of guy. Braking is only a last ditch fallback. My mindset is - I can always go another 50 miles with the light on. Maybe you, or your husband, are the same.
God uses “idiot lights” you know. The Bible is replete with cautions to pay heed to the pitfalls of life. A quick reference search for “take heed” in the KJV reveals no less than 65 passages that warn us to pay attention – at least 65 “idiot lights” for us. I’m sure there are many more – we seem to need frequent alerts.
One of the most poignant of these warnings is found in Galatians 5:15. It reads, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
At first glance this seems like a very strange analogy – a reference to some sort of cannibalism – a little freaky to my ears. Paul is setting up a stark contrast with this phrase. Paul utters this immediately after saying, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Vs. 14” Cannibalism Vs. Love is the message. The analogy is shocking but valid. We do have a tendency to cannibalize one another – we do bite and we do devour. Been bitten lately? Have any bite-mark scars from past attacks? Are you a biter?
I’m continually amazed at how much devouring goes on within the Kingdom. If you are reading this blog my guess is that you read others and maybe you keep up with some of the controversies within the Church. If you’ve entered the scary world of the Christian blogosphere then you may well have seen Christian Cannibalism up close. (Not that blogs are the only place this happens!) It’s a frightening and often disgusting experience. Snarky comments, arrogant accusations, fangs out, eyes afire, slavering saints ripping at other saints with the ferocity of a feeding frenzy. Sometimes I think there are believers that lie awake at night lusting for the next fight. They feel no life unless there’s a battle.
Paul was God’s instrument in a similar frenzy. He flicked the “idiot light” on with the intention that it shine brightly in our eyes when we are tempted to exalt correctness over concern for our brothers. The love of truth (or their own idea of truth) had pumped the Galatians into a snarling, thrashing, flesh tearing, and bloody fight. The clear warning is that the fight for truth threatened to consume the Body. We could never rightly accuse Paul of not loving truth so let’s not think that he is asking us to put truth aside for love. The warning light is against destruction – take heed that you don’t destroy your brother with your appetite for your infallible position.
The stinging brilliance of this warning is that Love doesn’t trump Truth – Love trumps being right! Love is ONE with Truth – they are completely impossible to separate! If we decide to bite and devour for the sake of our prized position – be warned – we might be consumed! We never ignore God’s warnings without consequences. In this case we don’t just run out of gas – we drive straight into the jaws of destruction. We threaten ourselves, and those we are supposed to love, with extermination. It’s serious business to kill the Bride!
If you find yourself in the midst of a fight and the “idiot light” flickers in your soul – take heed. If you can’t slow your own momentum – get help. If the brakes are failing – call a mechanic. If the car is out of gas – find a filling station. If you’ve tried everything you know of and haven’t found peace or resolution – contact us at churchone! We want to help! Don’t hesitate – cautions come before casualties.