Crumbs, Cries and Conversations (Matthew 15:21-28)

23 Feb

The Faith of the Caananite Woman: Crumbs, Cries and Conversation
A Sermon by Matthew Hundley (February 2012)

TEXT

Matthew 15:21-28

21             Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22
            A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out,
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!
My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23
            Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him,
“Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24
            He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25
            The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26
            He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27
            “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from
their master’s table.”
28
            Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Do you sense an odd tension in this passage?

Jesus’ actions seem a little out of the ordinary…
…His unwillingness to answer the woman’s request because she was a Caananite, a Gentile;
…the woman calling Jesus out on his stance;
…Jesus recanting because of her great faith…and ultimately healing her child.

Reading the passage, we’re left to ponder…
Could Jesus have actually been wrong?
Why would God allow a Gentile woman to correct him?
(I can see the headlines now: Gentile Woman Corrects King of Jews)

After further reflection, I would offer that Christ’s response here is very deliberate.
He allows this scene to play out in order to send a message.

What we need to ask is, “Who is Jesus sending this message to?”
Which leads us to discover who it is are we are to identify with in this passage.

To discover the answers to these questions it will help to step back a few verses and review the events leading up to this moment.

In Matthew 15:1-9 the Pharisees and scribes call Jesus to task because the disciples are not washing their hands properly when they eat. Keep in mind the Pharisees and scribes are extremely zealous, religious men. Jesus responds by explaining how they have put too much emphasis on tradition and man-made religious rules.

3 “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

He explains that hey have broken God’s law: dishonoring their mother and father by disregarding their instruction; and, channeling their energies into enforcing rules over honoring God. Know that in Judaism to honor your mother and father is to honor God. According to the Torah, striking or cursing your parents was punishable by death. So this is a serious accusation that Jesus is waging against the Pharisees.

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”

He then presents the Pharisees with a parable—which frustrates and offends them all the more. As they walk away from this scene he utters another parable to his disciples:

13 “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.
14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

The disciples too, fail to comprehend Jesus’ parables and ask for an explanation. Jesus questions them, “Are you so dull? … Don’t you see?”

The Gospel writer shifts our focus from the Pharisees to Jesus closest companions—his disciples; for they are starting to waver in their enthusiasm and commitment to Christ. In this passage we catch them in one of these moments where they are backsliding. They are still with him, but their hearts are starting to slip away. Jesus recognizes this. In their defense, they have ample cause for concern.

Imagine that a group of local church leaders (pastors, ministers, priests) from a variety of denominations started showing up at your church each week solely for the purpose of verbally attacking your pastor, questioning his teaching, and asking for proof of his calling. Now imagine those attacks carry into the public sphere, your pastor being ridiculed and questioned while he’s in line at Starbucks, Walmart, the local Quick Trip, wherever he happens to be. Even when he’s volunteering in the community—doing something good—he is attacked. What happens to your thoughts when respected community and religious leaders are attacking your pastor’s teaching, his theology and his actions? You might start to doubt; to wonder if there isn’t something to these attacks; to lost trust in your pastor. This could certainly impact your faith and belief in God.

That’s what’s going on here with Jesus disciples.

HEART CONDITION
The same heart condition he just diagnosed the Pharisees with is starting to well up in his own disciples.

As we examine this passage closer, ask yourself: Who is Jesus sending a message to in this passage? AND Who do we most identify with in this passage?

COMMENTARY

Turn to: Matthew 15:21-28

21             Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22
           A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out,
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!
My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

The way I picture it you’ve got Jesus up in front. Most likely conversing with Peter, John and James. The other disciples are following behind him. There are twelve men in this caravan, so they stretch out a ways on this path. The woman has heard that Jesus and his disciples are in the region, maybe she saw them pass by, she catches up to them and begins to cry out, “Lord have mercy on me.”

We do not know much about this woman other than she is a Caananite and that her child is sick and believed to be possessed by a demon. The agony and the burden of this situation must have been great, for this woman of low estate to be convicted to cross class and cultural lines; to approach this prophet, teacher, healer who some were saying was the son of God; and to be relentless in her pursuit of his healing.

It is significant that the Canaanite woman uses the title “Lord” which is an expression of great respect. Like the woman at the well, she does not fully realize what she is saying or fully who this is that she calls the “Son of David.” However, in doing so, she shows that she has some knowledge of Jewish thought. She also would have known about the temple of Eshmun, a pagan god of healing, that was just a few miles northwest of Sidon. But she has heard great stories of Jesus, she believes these stories, she has faith that he can heal her child and goes to him instead.

I wanted to quickly address the fact that she is a “Canaanite.” This location might prick our ears. While not mentioned often in the New Testament, we find Canaan and Canaanites referenced often in the Old Testament: God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham; Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan; Joshua’s battle at Jericho as the first battle in the conquest of Canaan. In the context of this passage it is used to describe this woman as a non-Jewish pagan person living in the region.

So, the woman approaches, the disciples begin to cry out, and…

23a             Jesus did not answer a word.

In not answering Jesus says much. This is one of those “pregnant pauses” which should cause the disciples to consider their situation; consider the consequences of their refusing to serve this woman.

23b             So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

I wanted to quick illustrate of this scene in modern terms…

Imagine a family with four kids on a road trip in a mini-van. The husband and wife are up front engrossed in conversation; meanwhile in the very back their daughter is whining and annoying her older brother making the car ride unbearable. The middle two children have their headphones in and are doing just fine. The daughter, realizing no one is listening, ramps up the volume of her cries. Now all the kids are distracted and finally the three appeal to mom and dad in unison:  Make her stop whining!” Now chances are, with some basic negotiation skills they could’ve settled this issue among themselves. However, they are young and don’t think about diplomacy and thus call for the parents to step in.

That’s the situation we’ve got here. Jesus is carrying on in conversation up front. This woman is crying behind. The disciples had been given the power to heal and cast out demons (we read about his in Matthew 10) and could have helped the woman and sent her on her way. But instead of helping her, they are merely annoyed by her. After all she is not a Jew. She has a sick child with her. She may smell a bit. And they simply would like to pass her by.

Hmm…Maybe, they hadn’t hear the story of the Good Samaritan yet. Or maybe we should be asking ourselves, “Is this how Christ followers behave?” If someone came to you begging to know Jesus, would you turn them down?

Next,  Jesus pipes in saying exactly what the disciples in the rear want him to say.

24             “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

Certainly, at this time the focus of his ministry was on Jews and their spiritual need—though later Christ’s message will go to the Gentiles. But what about the Centurion (Matthew 8), what about the woman at the well…certainly there had been Gentiles he had healed. And the one who needs healing now is a child…how often had Jesus expressed his love for children. So we have to see that he is using this opportunity to teach his disciples. His answer echoes their thoughts, but his intent is to teach them a lesson.

25             The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26
            He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

You might think of Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy…” Jews frequently insulted Gentiles by calling them, dogs, which in ancient Palestine were wild, homeless, scavengers. Note, however, that the form of the word Jesus uses here translates “little dog” which would be a more affectionate term used for domestic pets. Jesus is not insulting the woman but testing her faith.

Also worth noting is what follows in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you…” this woman has come before Christ and is now asking for his help.

26             He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27
            “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from
their master’s table.”

The woman presses Jesus by alluding to the extended blessings promised to the Gentiles through Abraham (Genesis 12:3) which she knows about.
28             Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Although God’s plan was to bring salvation first to his chosen Israel and then to the Gentiles, he responds to all who call on him in true faith. This Gentile woman’s demonstration of humility and  faith allows Jesus’ healing ministry to operate. He commends her for her “great faith”—something not demonstrated by the Pharisees; something not being demonstrated by his own disciples.

So what do we do with this? What are the disciples supposed to gain from this experience?

There are 3 things that stand out to me in the area of application. I’ll call them…

CRUMBS, CRIES & CONVERSATION

As Jesus and his disciples roamed from city to city, fragments of his teachings would travel (like Twitter posts) from mouth to mouth, village to village…and people would get crumbs of Christ’s words to feed on. Some developed a hunger for Christ that spurred them to cry out for the Savior—the Caananite woman would be one of those. Her thirst for the Gospel lead her to a life changing decision follow (literally) Christ—which led to a life-changing conversation with him.

I don’t think the disciples realized the extent of the impact that Jesus’ teaching was having on other people—particulary Gentiles. To the disciples—the crowds were a nuisance…mouths to feed, bodies to heal—they kept wondering when Christ would assume a throne, build up his armies, make them his leader. But that was not the plan. Jesus was already planting seeds—dropping crumbs if you will—for a greater kingdom. Loving people, teaching them, healing them, listening to them, feeding them, serving them—this was not the behavior of an earthly king. But it was the behavior of a heavenly king.

Christ left crumbs for the crowds, and they returned clamoring for more. These people didn’t always know who he was; but they recognized he was an extraordinary man and that he was a servant of God. They called him prophet, priest, rabbi, master and Lord.

We who call ourselves Christian are supposed to leave crumbs as well—when we are with our families, our co-workers, our friends. Christians everywhere are leaving crumbs as well. And when people are in need of Christ—when the crumbs have instilled a hunger, a longing for something more—they cry out for their savior. It is up to us to listen for their cries.

I had a co-worker, a sales rep for the ad agency I was working for, who once asked me to pray for him. He was not a practicing Christian, but he knew I was, and we had spent some time on the road together and had talked about faith. So when he was having some health issues he asked me to pray. This is a simple example, but there had been crumbs from our conversation that had led him to ask for prayer. And led us into conversations about faith.

More generally, there is a longing for a savior that we see in pop culture. In superhero movies. In pop songs. On reality TV shows. Movies…Superman is probably the most obvious allegory we find: a child with no earthly parents comes down from the heavens and has powers to save the world for destruction. Songs…there are too many to list, ”What if God was one of us…” “You’re staring at me with that Jesus Christ pose…” Reality TV…if you watched any of the last two seasons of Survivor you’ve seen faith emerge in a major role. Two season ago, a young man is stuck on redemption island with his Bible to give him strength to win challenges. This season the winning team was all about praying together before challenges and drawing upon Christ for inspiration to keep going on.

So my question to you: Are you listening for the cries of those who long to know more? Those who have tasted the crumbs and are now hungry to know more.

Ultimately the crumbs lead to cries, which lead to CONVERSATION.

I have an artist friend who was creating a piece that required for him to understand the Old Testament. He knew I was a Christian and that I was taking seminary courses and we had many long discussions about the Bible and about faith. And ultimately he wanted to know more about Jesus and the message of the Christian faith. He would not have asked had I not left a trail of crumbs before him.

Don’t make conversations harder than they have to be. When someone comes to you with an interest in learning about your faith—why you believe, what is it that you believe in—they do so with vulnerability. They are affording you the opportunity to speak change into their life. Just as Christ spoke change into the life of the Canaanite woman.

CLOSE

If you are here today and you have not embraced Christ as savior. Then you might have found yourself more closely relating to the woman. You know that there are other religious options out there, but you are here today in the company of Christ’s flock. I invite you to engage in the conversation starting today.

If you are here today and you profess Christ. Then you should identify with the disciples, the ones who seek to follow Christ—but are experiencing a lull in their faith.

Christ gives us gifts to serve, to teach, to heal, to comfort, and to guide those around us. When we are approached by someone asking for help—whether they are part of our flock, part of another flock, or not part of any flock at all—we must respond. We must reach out to them and serve them as though they were are own brother or sister.

That they may know the love of Christ that we are called to express. May God bless our hearing and application of His Word.

Amen.

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MARK 3:7 – 12

7 Jan

Then Jesus with his disciples withdrew to the seashores.

This was the sabbath. He had just been to the temple where he healed a man.

A great multitude followed him. [They came] from Galilee and from Judaea and from Jerusalem and from Idumaea and from beyond the Jordan and the region of Tyre and Sidon. A great multitude came to him when they heard what he was doing.

News of Jesus ministry (teaching, healing, casting out unclean spirits) had spread throughout the region and people left their homes and sought him out in droves.

He told his disciples they should secure a boat for him, because of the crowd, so that they should not crush him.

Movies about Jesus always show small groups (20 or maybe 100 max) of people gathered around Jesus. A small group could not crush a man. We need to re-envision this more like the mobs of fans waiting for the Beatles or the sea of bodies at Woodstock. There were so many people that were they to be incited Jesus would most certainly be crushed.

He healed many, so that they thrust upon him, to have those who were in torment touch him.

We here this in the case of the bleeding woman as well, that her only desire is to touch his robe so that she might be healed. Superstition, rumors, and quickly traveling news attracted many to him. Jesus needed to break free from the crowds.

The unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him and cried out saying, “You are the son of God.” And he charged them many times not to divulge what he was doing.

Even unclean spirits would break from their possessed to address Jesus. And unlike men, who failed to recognize Christ for who he was. These demons recognized Christ and knew (or at least suspected) the reason that he had come. Christ commands them to be silent. His control extends over their realm as well as the humanly realm.

Looking at Scripture: Matthew 10

29 Dec

Matthew 10

Then calling to him his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to treat every sickness and every infirmity.

Every time I read this I am floored by this action of extending his authority to the disciples. Because of their firm belief, of their unshakeable faith, he bestows upon them these fantastical gifts of healing and authority over demons. Powers which will dissipate once even a hint of doubt sets in. Much like when Jesus calls Peter out of the boat to walk on water. For the first few steps he does indeed walk on water. But then his confidence and his faith crumble and he begins to sink.

These twelve Jesus sent forth and gave them instructions, saying: Do not go on the road to the Gentiles, and do not go into any city of the Samaritans. Make you way rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

Why not reach out to Gentiles and Samaritans? It is not time. First they must got to the lost sheep of Israel. They must strive to corral them back into the fold of God. It is only later, once Israel refuses the shepherd, Jesus, that the invitation is extended to the lost tribes. I think of the parable of the man who invites his friends to a feast and none of them come, so he then extends the invitation to the town’s beggars who all arrive in fashion; well, all but one.

As you preach and say that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the infirm, raise up the dead, make lepers clean, cast out demons. You have taken a free gift; give a free gift.

Interesting that Christ sets them up to heal and cast out wicked spirits first. Then he mentions preaching. Preaching the news that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. As they heal the people, they also present the Gospel to them. Entering into such service for Christ is a gift. He heaps upon them these great talents. Because of their belief, their faith, they are able to heal, exorcize demons and preach the Gospel. And yet this gift is short-lived.

We know that when Christ comes down the hill after the transfiguration, the disciples are being confronted because they lack the ability to cast out a demon. Their faith has been shaken. And Christ must being them back into the fold because of their lack of faith. And their need for additional instruction.

My desire is to devote myself to Christ; to develop an unshakeable belief; a faith that is solid—such that I could focus on nurturing God’s gifts to me so that I might give a free gift to others. That I might demonstrate Christ through his word through healing and helping others to loose the demons in their own lives.

Source: The New Testament – translated by Richmond Lattimore

Looking at Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-10

29 Nov

PARAPHRASE
You were dead men: dwelling in sin and selfishness; living for the cares of this world alone; giving into the desires planted in your heart by the spirit of this earth. It was his presence, not God’s, that you felt coursing through you; the lord of the air whose mark is upon the sons of disobedience. But not just you, we too had once abandoned ourselves to the desires of the flesh. We too were natural children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, through his great love brought us out of the realm of the dying; and raised us up to the realm of life in Christ. You have been saved by grace. You have been revived in Christ, so that you may show others the surpassing abundance of grace and kindness that God has given you. For the faith we share does not come from within, but is a gift from God. Our joy comes from nothing we have done, lest we get prideful, but it comes from Him. We are His handiwork, made in His image; called to model Christ and follow his teachings and pursue good works. [Reference: ESV, Lattimore]

EXPOSITION
We tend to dwell in the life. But we must acknowledge our death. For sin is the constant tug at the heart strings towards self involvement and fractured focus towards the desires of this world. So often we fail to see our disobedience. We stash our sin away, but our hearts and eyes give us away. The lord of the air is very aware of our actions, our dark thoughts, our callous words and behaviors. He feeds off of them. He rewards us for our disobedience. But we who proclaim Christ as savior must not get lost in the sinful sea. Our joy is in Christ who cleanses us of our sin. Our faith is in God, in Truth. In His handiwork we see how majestic are his ways. We must learn to recognize the child of God in the mirror and pursue the mind of Christ, by the Spirit, in order to be set free from our sin.

PRAYER
Lord, the tangle of my sin and my selfishness distract from my devotion to you. I get tangled up in the weeds and fail to bear the fruit you desire. I recognize the sons of disobedience because I was one of them. And I fall too easily back into their behaviors. I feel the lord of the air breathing down my neck and I run back towards my savior. Revive me oh Christ. Let my faith be the filter which keeps me from harm. Let my joy, my hope be in you. Help me to pursue your word, your way, your truth. Amen.

Looking at Song | O Store Gud (How Great Thou Art)

9 Nov

I love when a song has such a rich history–the telling of which sparks movies in the mind. Such is the case with “How Great Thou Art”(aka “O Store Gud” – “Oh Mighty God”).

Carl Gustav Boberg was walking home from an afternoon service at his church near Kronoback, Sweden when the peal of church bells suddenly gave way to a peaceful winter calm. He looked out over Monsteras Bay and the radiant sun filled him with momentary awe, only to be broken by the presence of a thundercloud stealing away the light and flashing it’s might across the sky as the storm it led came into full view. Once home he heard church bells ringing in the distance. Gazing out the window the glorious scenes of the day poured into his mind and he wrote this hymn which was first published in 1886 in Swedish.

In 1907 the song was translated from Swedish to German and popularized under the title “Du grober Gott.” (“O Mighty God”) A few years later, in 1912, the song made it’s way to Russia where it was called “Velikly Bog” (“Great God”). The first English translation appeared in 1925 under the title “Oh Mighty God”:

Oh Mighty God, when I behold the wonder
Of nature’s beauty, wrought by words of thinge,
And how thou leadest all from realms up yonder,
Sustaining life with love benign.

In 1931 a British missionary names Stuart Wesley Keene Hine head the Russian translation while in the Ukraine. He was the one who created the English paraphrase known as “How Great Thou Art.” He is also responsible for adding added the very powerful 3rd verse:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

After World War II Hine’s wrote additional verses. One of which went like this:

O when I see ungrateful man defiling
Bounteous earth, God’s gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God’s holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.

Hines’ final version was published in 1949. It was introduced in American in 1951.  It became a signature song in the Billy Graham crusades of the 1950s–popularized by George Beverly Shea.

In 1957 a version of the hymn was commissioned by Intervarsity which harkened back to the Boberg original.

The United Church of Christ released a revised version of the hymn in 1995, which uses the refrain:

My soul cries out in songs of praise to you.
O mighty God! O mighty God!

This hymn is one that has now been translated in a multitude of languages around the globe from Spanish to Swahili to Slovak and Vietnamese.

It is hard not to get caught up in ardent praise as you belt out:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art, How great thou art.

Amen.

[Sources: Trinity Hymnal; Wikipedia]

Looking at Scripture | Mark 3:20-27

9 Nov

PARAPHRASE (mine)
Jesus had been out speaking to the multitudes. He and the twelve return by boat. Jesus heads back to the house where he is staying. He sits down to eat with friends. The towns people, hearing that Jesus is there, begin to fill up the house. He recounts stories of the day. Soon there are so many people in this house, that those who were eating can no longer raise their bread to their mouths. Jesus’ family hears of this gathering and squeezes their way into the house to take Jesus away. His brothers shout, “He’s out of his mind, people. Let us through so this crowd can be dispelled.” His kin were not the only ones who wanted to discredit Jesus. Scribes appeared in the house as well. “He is not out of his mind, rather he is possessed by a demon. By Beelzebub. For he who drives out demons could only be a demon himself.” Christ then stands, calms his family, and addresses the scribes in parables. “How is it that Satan can drive out Satan?” Then turning their conventional wisdom upon them he says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. AND (addressing his family members) if a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand. AND if Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but comes to an end.”

EXPOSITION
There is a lot going on in this passage. There’s a lot going on. Jesus returning. Hoping to finish out his day with a quiet meal and conversation with his friends. But what he gets instead is more of what he’s encountered already that day. People anxious to connect, to hear what he has to say, to be healed by his hands, to cast the demons out of their lives and experience life anew in Christ. And because of this they come in droves–filling up the place where he is. His family shows us. They think he’s nuts. And while Christ loves his family, his heavenly position and duty to God take precedence. Then we have scribes (always a pleasant bunch) who have come to chastise him. They seek to cast doubt into the hearts of the crowd. [Remember this was a house packed wall-to-wall with people by the time these guys arrive.] his family proclaims to the crowd that he’s loony. The scribes say he’s a demon. A servant of Satan. Jesus then rebukes the scribes and his family. And in so doing makes a little dig at the religious establishment. For just as Christians today are divided; certainly the Jews in Jesus own day were divided. Ultimately his goal was to rally the troops. To gather people in unity of purpose, belief and faith. That all would one day be ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven.

PRAYER
God help us to pay attention to Jesus’ words. His teaching, his parables, his warnings. Help us to listen to one another. To seek to build one another up in Christ and not tear down what you have built. Let us gather in your house, engage in lively discussion, and break bread together. Let us think before accusing our brothers. But also let us not forget that there is real evil in this world. We do have an enemy. He does not celebrate our progress or our unity. He’d rather have us fragmented. Accusing one another. Confusing our flock for his own. Lord, give us strength, wisdom, patience, kindness, discernment and right minds as we pursue your truth.

An Expansion of the Previous Post

5 Jan

Who determines our salvation?
It’s not us. No pastor, priest, elder, deacon, bishop or minister can promise this to any man, nor take it away.

Who is the final judge and determiner of our true character?
It’s not us. No one, no matter what their ministerial rank, can place salvific judgment upon a believer or unbeliever.

Is our salvation dependent upon denomination, political views, style of worship, which translation of the Bible we use, which gifts we have demonstrated, etc?
No. While I have great respect for the many traditions and varying worship styles of my brothers in Christ; no one way of worship is held higher than any other in the eyes of God.

I write this because I see, too often, Christians lambasting Christians.

I’ve heard Christians make grand claims that “our way” [insert denomination or church here] is the only right way to worship, to interpret scripture, to live a Christ-centered life.

There are websites a plenty created by Christians in order to condemn and even damn other Christians who: belong to a different denomination, read a different version of the Bible, interpret scripture differently, hold to different religious traditions, ascribe to behaviors that some consider un-Christian.

Is this how Christians treat others who profess faith in Christ?

I can imagine the cheers in Hell as Satan and his demons gather to watch Christians attacking other Christians.

We have taken the focus off our mortal enemy – and placed it on our own selfish motives for how we desire Christianity to be.

Who is the head of the church?
Christ alone.

Who determines our salvation?
Christ alone.

Who is the final judge and determiner of our true character?
Christ alone.