What are your children learning at church? Most churches are not active in snake handling, or are they? The kind of snakes I am talking about are the ones we form with our words. I have no doubt that your child’s Sunday school teacher is amazing, the children’s choir is great, and the mid-week Bible study is helping them to memorize scripture. I’m not talking about what they learn in class, but what do they learn in the hallways? What are the side conversations they hear the adults engage in? Are there poisonous traditions or snake handling in your church?
Snake Handling in the Church: Poisonous Traditions
Believe it or not there is a lot of snake handling in the church today.
It happens in almost every church and in every denomination. Our churches are filled with broods of vipers.
Just like the old religious groups that existed in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, some in the church hold to the old “our way or the highway” mentality and tear everyone else down in the process. I don’t think it is always done on purpose, but just out of “innocent” ignorance, fear, and tradition.
Little ears hear big things
David and I can talk directly to our kids and they don’t seem to get a thing we are saying. Let us, however, have a conversation about something that does not involve them in the least and they are all ears. Kids like to get in on or ease drop on adult conversations. It may be a way of feeling grown up or just a creative way to gather information.
I grew up in a small town Presbyterian Church and love my memories of growing up there. It is in this little church that I fell in love with Jesus and learned about His love for me. No one that I can remember, ever said that we held the highest authority on the right way or the wrong way things should be done. However, I remember old opinions that I had formed at an early age just from listening to conversations about other denominations that went on around me.
- We were the most right about everything.
- Baptist ran a close second place.
- Methodist didn’t get it quite right.
- Everyone else was way off track.
- If you spoke in tongues, you could be saying words from the devil, so stay away from it.
Handling pride is a Poisonous Tradition
Where did these ideas come from? Just from conversations that I heard about what other denominations believed. There is something in us all that makes us want to claim that we have it right. That thing is an ugly little snake named pride. We have this problem of wanting to spew out all of our opinions without realizing how it is affecting those around us, especially the children.
Children are like sponges they absorb the information around them to help define their world. They also reflect the behavior that they see!
Yes, even when you don’t think they are listening, their radar is on.
Paul wrote to Timothy about this very issue in the church.
Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. (2 Timothy 2:14)
Are we giving fish or snakes?
Too often I think we do give our children snakes. Our gifts come with forked tongues in the form of gossip, preconceived ideas, and judgments about others. What would happen if we really treated others the way we wanted to be treated?
“What man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?” If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:9-13)”
Instead of POISONOUS Traditions, Why not Love?
Could the body of Christ come together and embrace one another in love?
I read somewhere once that the most common reasons people leave the church, or reason why kids do not stay in church once they are old enough to choose for themselves is because of the hypocrisy they see on the inside. They see gossip in the form of prayer request, criticize leadership, and watch leaders not practice what they preach.
Let’s face it, no one is perfect right? We all make mistakes but that doesn’t excuse them or make them cause less pain.
What if we spent more time giving God praise about the things we agree on instead of tearing each other apart?
Jesus used the term “Brood of Vipers” in Matthew chapter 12. He again is talking to the Pharisees about the way that they use their mouths to speak against the work of the Holy Spirit.
If you have been a victim of one of these bites, you might have a church wound that needs to be healed. If that is you, check out this blog post on Fromhispresence.com
A brood of what?
You brood of vipers, how can you being evil, speak what is good. For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34).
I looked up synonyms for brood and found these words:
What we do and say will be passed down into our families for generations to come. I would much rather my family and the religious people of our day be known as a Brood of Believers!
If we choose to put an end to the finger-pointing, it would be possible to change the flow of information going to the next generation.
Instead of venom from our hearts, our children would receive the love that reaches out to those who are different than them. I am not saying they should stray from the truth or bend the truth of the Word; above all we should teach truth. But we should accept one another’s strengths instead of exploiting weaknesses and allow the love, wisdom, and knowledge of God to sort out the rest. We are all parts of the same body.
“…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Where the Word is Read God will SPEAK
I embrace my heritage today as a former-Presbyterian-now-charismatic-Baptist girl. I am in a religious melting pot and hope to continue to stay there so the Master Refiner can continually help me to burn off the dross and keep my heart pure.
Until recently, I was on staff at the church that I had attended for 20 years. During that time I may have gone to another church twice, while on vacation or out of town. My first years of belonging to my church I was very proud of it. I was proud of our worship, the new things I was learning about spiritual warfare, and a things our pastor taught that were new and exciting to me.
Finding a Cure for the Poison
Skip ahead 20 years, I was then in a place where God was asking me to leave my comfort zone. The thing that I learned as we visited around different churches and multiple different denominations was this: Wherever the Bible was opened up and read, I heard God speak. It didn’t matter if the pastor was in shorts and a t-shirt or wearing a robe. The style of music, size of the choir, hymnals, or hand raisers, none of it mattered.
Yes there were some theological differences, but we decided to just focus on the gospel and who Jesus is. That is the main thing! We eventually settled where we believe God called us, but made lots of friends along the way. Hopefully that experience will help our children not to judge by traditions but by truth and love.
In Philippians 3 Paul warns us about having confidence in our flesh; this is where the poison comes from. We must remain humble, only comparing ourselves to Christ. When we think someone may be in error, then we in love approach them as God leads. What we should never do is to air out our opinions of others in public.
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praise worthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.