Are you a Christian Cannibal?
Sometimes Christians resort to what I would call Christian cannibalism. It’s where we, as fellow believers, tend to eat our own . . . symbolically speaking.
It’s what happens when we talk about another believer in a critical, judgmental way. It’s where we “throw someone under the bus” when they sin in a way that offends us. It’s when we gossip about other believers. It’s when we are offended with someone and we talk maliciously about them to other people.
Paul talked about this in Galatians 5:13-15:
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. (NASB)
In verse 15 he tells us that if we bite and devour one another, we could end up being consumed by each other. This is a very serious warning that is very applicable today.
The Bible uses the metaphor of Christians being living stones (1 Peter 2:5). As living stones, God is building a living, breathing temple in which to dwell. When Paul talks about us being the temple of the Holy Spirit, he is talking to us plural, not us as in individual people. The point being is we are collectively what we cannot be individually. To a more certain point, we NEED each other.
Since all believers make up the body of Christ, we are all intertwined. We are dependent on each other. Just as the natural body is designed to heal itself, so the body of Christ is meant to heal itself.
The Church should be the one of two places in the whole world where a person can be themselves, be honest about their sins and find forgiveness and mercy when they fall. The other place should be a person’s family. Unfortunately we know that for a majority of people, neither place is their safe place.
As living stones, we have the ability to be hurt, offended and devoured. There are so many Christians within the body of Christ that are, what I call, burnt stones. They have been hurt, offended and sometimes even devoured by other Christians. It’s something that should never happen within the Church but it does. It happens more than it should.
It’s Christian cannibalism. I know that is a very strong, harsh term but it’s true. Notice again Paul’s words, “if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
The language here is strong and direct. It’s possible to bite someone and devour them. The old adage, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a lie. Words can build up and they can certainly tear down. I have been on the receiving end of harsh, critical words. They did hurt. They burnt me.
There have been times, as a living stone, that I wanted to come out of the wall and go someone else. I didn’t want to be a part of something that was going to hurt me. I have felt the devouring of other Christians who have told lies on me, maligned my character, and devoured me.
It’s Christian cannibalism and it needs to stop.
When we bite and devour one another, we end up being consumed ourselves because we are one body. We are an intricate part of each other. We need each other. Imagine chewing on your arm because it did something you didn’t like. Imagine chewing on your foot because it didn’t act the way you thought it should.
Imagine cutting off a part of your body because you didn’t like the way it looked. You wouldn’t do it.
Yet, that is what we do when we bite and devour one another. We are all part of the body of Christ. Jesus is the head; we are simply to do as He directs. Sometimes we end up thinking we are the head and start making decisions that are not ours to make.
By doing that we end up eating our own, and we become Christian cannibals.
When one of our body parts is sick, our body does all it can to protect itself and to heal itself. Why can’t we do that for our brothers and sisters in Christ? Why can’t we rush to restore someone who has fallen? Why can’t we bear the burdens of someone who is struggling? Why do we have to cut them off and act like we don’t care? We sometimes act like we are better than they are, like we have never messed up.
We turn on our own and we end up eating our own. It’s a sad condition in the Church and it needs to stop. I need to stop doing it myself. I have fed off the flesh of a fellow brother or sister. I have not been there when I was needed. I have taken a bite out of a fellow believer, and in the end I was consumed because they were part of my flesh.
When we begin to realize how interdependent we are upon one another, we will stop consuming one another. We need each other. We are one body designed to work together in unity to follow the head, Jesus Christ. Just like there are features on my personal, physical body that I don’t like, there are going to be parts of His body that I may not like. But that doesn’t mean I am going to go and chop them off.
When we truly walk in love for one another, we will stop biting and devouring one another. Walking in love will stop us from being Christian cannibals.