Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Snakes and Ropes

Over the last several days my friend from Congo has been around.  He is a wonderful man of God who has been laboring in that field for ten years.  I have immense respect for him.  To labor in that place for ten years and remain virtually unscathed by all of the enemy’s darts is obviously a work of the Holy Spirit.  So, I am wanting to learn how this is possible from my friend, Fiston.

As we talked one night he related an African proverb; “once a man has been bitten by a snake he will then fear the rope.”  I take from this that the bite of a snake is severe enough that you never really forget it.  In fact, it is so severe that anything that even looks like a snake at first glance will cause, by way of association, fear to rise up.  I once heard an acronym for the word fear:  False Evidence Appearing Real.

Many of us have been bitten by one snake or another and are now afraid of a rope.  There may even be times when we are so afraid of the counterfeit that we reject the real because it does indeed at first glance look like the counterfeit.  I think the snake that has so often bitten is the snake of offense.  There seems to be so many hurts and offenses in today’s culture.  Perhaps you know of some who has experienced hurt at the hands of other believers or by way of the church.  It is possible that this has been your experience.

This should really be of no surprise to us.  Jesus talked of a time when this would be the case.  As he spoke of the signs of His coming He said in Matthew 24:10 that many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  He goes on to say that because of the increase of lawlessness the love of most will grow cold.  Not the love of many but the love of most.  Offenses will increase.  And they will increase on many levels.  When we hold these offenses our love will grow cold.  The scriptures implores us to forgive one another so that the enemy does not gain a foothold into our life.

Those of us in the evangelical world think and talk about famine, earthquakes and pestilence in the context of His return.  We don’t pay a lot of attention to the offenses that will come and the ramifications of that.  Perhaps an argument can be made that as far as damage to the soul and spirit of a believer the offenses that have come and will come can be as damaging as earthquakes, famine and pestilence.  Offenses tend to lead us into criticism, bitterness and unforgiveness.  This in turn leads to isolation and loneliness.  And then the enemy has us trapped, keeping us from the very thing God prescribed for us, fellowship, community and the family of God.  We are encouraged to not forsake the assembly especially as the day approaches. 

It is then of no surprise that offenses come.  I suppose the larger issue is what we do with them once they come.  Our natural response is fight or flight.  Some allow the offenses to sit unchallenged in their spirit causing bitterness.  Others take the flight response living life in paralyzing fear particularly where relationships are involved.  The Holy Spirit allows for and frees us up to live in glorious freedom, in spite of offenses.

From Africa, a land where great offense has occurred comes wisdom.  Yes, the snake has bitten but we need not fear the rope.  I would add, or be tied up by it.  Ultimately it is love that frees us and the vehicle by which that occurs is forgiveness.

David Fuller