Yesterday, I learned of a church in central Florida that has decided to lock its doors from the inside every Sunday morning. It’s a small country Baptist church outside Dade City; I have family who attend there. In response to last week’s events in Washington, the leaders of the congregation just decided that, for the sake of security and because there are abortion protesters active in nearby Tampa, whenever the church meets, the doors will be locked from the inside. They don’t want trouble, and they don’t want politicized activists coming in to disrupt Sunday worship. But they’re operating from a position of fear, and my family members there are (understandably) upset by the development.
It’s our tendency as human beings to seek both supremacy and self-preservation at the same time. We work to preserve what we know, what we have, who we are because we understand we live in a world where others will actively seek to take what we have and destroy who we are. We do that while, at the same time, striving to get ahead, to prevail. Prevailing naturally means prevailing over odds set against us, but it also (naturally) includes prevailing over others trying to do the same thing. It’s also part of simply being human beings, even being part of communities. We seek order by instituting rules, systems, processes to keep the peace because ours is a world where peace is the exception, not the rule. Got skin? Got sin. Need God.
If we live in a posture of fear, we’ll be susceptible to others coming in and ripping us apart. And, even if we don’t, even when we try to do the right thing, we’re in danger of being dashed on the rocks because disorder and chaos, not order, are how a fallen world usually functions.
It was that way in Paul’s Galatia, which is in the northwest part of modern Turkey. Divisions in the church threatened to rip apart the nascent group. They couldn’t agree on whether or not to follow Jewish customs. They couldn’t agree on how to support each other. They couldn’t agree on how, or if, to interact with other groups. The early church grew fastest in Asia Minor, but it was challenged every day by both external and internal divisive factors. And it operated in a fearful, permissive culture that was overseen by a lax government that was officially hostile.
Sort of like today.
Will we be ripped apart today? Will a climate of public fear, or internal divisions about how to cope with it, rip our churches apart? Will we introduce chaos with the best of intentions? Will we surrender a little faith to maybe attain elusive temporary safety? Are we Galatians?
For further reading: Galatians 5:16
Come Lord Jesus to help us.
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