Friday, December 5, 2008

Irrational animals...born to be caught and destroyed, speaking evil about matters of which they do not understand

2 Peter 2:12-17 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, speaking evil about matters of which they do not understand, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unstable souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

I read this passage as part of my daily devotions today and was caught off guard. The passage speaks of men who behave like animals. How do they behave like animals? If you read further you will find some of the results of their animal-like behavior such as adultery but that is merely a result. They behave like animals which ought to be destroyed by acting out of instinct. They speak of things that they don't understand. They think that further investigation and use of reason is completely unnecessary. After a short observation they have trusted their instincts to form a judgment.

How prevalent is this today? How many times have you reacted negatively to something that you really didn't know anything about? How many times have you heard people in your church forming judgments about people or events that they didn't really know anything about? Have you spread these instinctual judgments to others and presented them as fact? How many times have you heard pastors speak condemningly from the pulpit about the practices of other churches that they really didn't know anything about? How many times have you heard the members of these congregations spreading these instinctual, beastly judgments?

If a person grows up in a church (regardless of what church that is), they regard the practices of that church as normal. Any deviation from their past experience is often determined to be wrong based upon instinctual reaction. But is this the way the Lamb calls us to behave? Do you think that the Lamb who gave His life for you wants you to behave as an animal that ought to be destroyed?

There is nothing neutral about worship. All practices must be evaluated in the light of Scripture. But you have to be careful. It's easy to confuse what you are used to with Scripture. When practices of a church appear to deviate from Scripture you should ask the pastor or another knowledgeable person from the church why such things are done. If you refuse to discuss the issues and condemn out of pure instinct you are a true heretic. Biblically a heretic is someone who divides the church. Your condemnation of a church body based on instinct is a heresy.

Condemnation based on instinct is the result of pride. Your pride convinces you that you must be doing everything right and that you as an individual are the true standard of all orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Instinctual judgment creates an idol of self and diminishes the personhood of the persons being judged. The error of the instinctual judger is the error of the Pharisee. Deep down the instinctual judger thinks that those he is condemning are disgusting and too big of sinners to be saved by Christ. But the Lamb did not come into the world to save instinctual judgmental people. The Lamb came to save sinners!

You are not the center of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The Lamb is at the center of everything! The Lamb gave Himself for you. The Lamb is so patient with you. Why won't you be patient with others? If your true desire is to live a life in which you receive the good gifts given to you by the Lamb, then why wouldn't you want to learn and discuss with others? Don't you want others to receive these gifts? Don't you want to receive them yourself? How do you receive good gifts and share them with others through instinctual judging? All you will receive is the praise of men. You have your reward. You cut yourself off from the good gifts of God.
If truth is the goal then there is nothing to be lost from discussion and nothing to be feared. Perhaps you will even find that YOU are the one acting unbiblically in YOUR worship.

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