Brood of Vipers
You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.Romans 3:13-18
“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”Now go and read, if you dare, this article and comments.
This is beyond evil. No wonder the apostle John stares in horror at what he can scarcely believe was ever the ekklesia in Rev. 17:5-7. (There are only two entities in the Bible that were ever said to be “married” to God: Israel and the ekklesia, and I think we can rule out Israel in that passage. The reason this matters is because she is called a prostitute, and this is God’s way of referring to His wayward “wife”.) How can any group of believers harbor such evil, enabling it by silence while the perpetrators roam freely among the sheep?
But while many good points are made at that link, here’s what I think is the foundational “enabler”: The Institution, the “church”, the System. It fosters hierarchy and divides the Body. It puts up barriers between the people and their Savior and God. Of course even a “house church” can be just as bad, but when you have multi-national conglomerates that call themselves “Christian”, you multiply both the severity of the crimes and the number of victims
Think about it. If you have been taught all your life that you have direct access to God, that you have the Holy Spirit to guide you and the Bible to keep you in the truth, then it will be much harder for anyone to use position or fear of hell to victimize you. But if, as in any cult, you have been told that you must blindly obey your rulers, who will not hesitate to hunt you down if you run or smear your name if you talk, you run a much greater risk of falling victim to the aggressive, to people who are known for their ability to put on a pious face while savagely tearing apart the sheep.
Can “the system” be fixed? Can it function as a NT community of believers? No, and here’s why: the Body is exactly that. It is an organism, a living being, a family. Unless you think families can function best as orphanages are run, you can see the inherent deficiency in a religion modeled after business and industry.
Of course this is not to say there are no true believers in “churches”, but only that they would do much better in the model Christ designed. Is it really so hard to think of Christianity as a life instead of a career? Is it worth perpetuating a system that is much more efficient at covering wolves with wool and churning out victims by the hundreds?
Let’s not give Satan any more “footholds” than he already has. He knows that the best way to control a large group is through a few at the top. But if there’s no “top” except Jesus...
Psalm 140 1 Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers; protect me from the violent,
2 who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day.
3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. [b]
4 Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path.
6 I say to the LORD, “You are my God.” Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy.
7 Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.
8 Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD; do not let their plans succeed.
9 Those who surround me proudly rear their heads; may the mischief of their lips engulf them.
10 May burning coals fall on them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise.
11 May slanderers not be established in the land; may disaster hunt down the violent.
12 I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
13 Surely the righteous will praise your name