“Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain.” (Reference: Ezekiel 22:27 )
[ Bear with me beloved; I will explain why I gave this post the title I did. ]
The writer of Ezekiel says the Lord told him to lay accusations upon the leaders and people of Israel. No one was excused from the charges. The prophets, the priests, the leaders, and the common people were all accused, from verses 23 through to 29. I am sure each of them had their reasons and rationale for doing what they did. And asked, they would probably say they are follow God . . . as they understand the Lord. Justified by faith.
Menno Simons wrote about the leaders of his time, citing (amongst others) this passage. His accusation were laid to rest at the feet of the leader of the established church at that time. He wrote, “The lords and keepers of the law are generally after nothing but favor and friendship of their prince to whom they are sworn—after authority and good wages, sought with great avarice. These are they who torture, banish, confiscate, and murder, as the prophet says, Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw at the bones till the morrow. Zeph. 3:3. At another place, Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. Ezek. 22. Oh, how true was the revelation of the holy John, when he say that the Babylonian whore was drunken with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus. Rev. 17:6.”
But the leaders of that time felt they were safeguarding the faith against heretics. And “cleansing” the church so that the faithful might not be lead astray. And the historic Anabaptists were just as convinced that they had the proper hold and perspective on faith, and therefore condemned the entire church for the oppression and persecution they suffered at the hands of a few. Justified by faith.
And what of us, beloved, and our generation? What are we accusing others for, and laying condemnation at their feet for? Do we feel we are justified by our faith? Even though it may be a flawed faith?
There is no wrongdoing in conforming our lives to a certain type and perspective of faith. Where we err is when we accuse others. Perhaps the writer of Ezekiel was confident that he heard the Lord “correctly”. And if our pondering and meditation stopped there, we would not have to consider further. But we (or at least I am) are not just looking at these scripture passages from our own perspective and in our own time. I/We are using the lens of historic Anabaptists to see how they applied these verses. And what the implications are for us.
There is a wide difference between Christian beliefs, as they are held by Christians on every continent of the world. There is no global agreement and consensus. But that is not the real problem. Because where there is no global agreement, there is no global acceptance of Christian views. Each group holds to their faith, and since they feel theirs is the only correct faith, they feel justified by their faith to condemn others. I do not say this is true of every Christian group – praise be to God! – but it is true of enough groups that it is darn embarrassing!
Global Christian may not be as bad as the time of the writer of Ezekiel and Menno Simons. But we are a far ways from unconditional acceptance and love. And while we are not (or I pray not) actually murdering each other, as God accused the Israelites and Simons accused the church leaders of his time, the sin of hating one’s brother or sister is not any less than murdering them. Maybe to the judicial laws, but we answer to a Higher Power, beloved. There is time enough in the days ahead to consider actual murder, and what perspectives the historic Anabaptists gathered under that type of theme. Let us this day make sure that we treat our brothers and sisters with the compassion that is mandated by our Lord. It is the only thing our faith can justify. Selah!