by Rodger Trimm
"Now, as to the attack the zealots made upon the people, and which I esteem the beginning of the city's destruction, it hath been already explained after an accurate manner; as also whence it arose, and to how great a mischief it was increased; but for the present sedition, one should not mistake if he called it a sedition begotten by another sedition, and to be like a wild beast grown mad, which for the want of food abroad, fell upon eating its own flesh." [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book V, Chapter 1].
Vespasian had conquered most of Judea before he left for Rome to be crowned emperor. He entrusted his son, Titus, to finish the campaign. Titus gathered his legions at Caesarea to prepare for the siege of Jerusalem. In this context, Josephus describes the state of the Jews in Jerusalem. They were a divided people, at war with each other at a time when they should have been united against their common enemy. They were, as Josephus saw it, eating their own flesh.
We have some zealots among us, today, who seem to be intent on repeating history. I refer to our warriors of the Internet. In the past, most of our internecine conflicts were kept in the family. Now, anyone with access to the Internet can read all the juicy details of brothers going to war against brothers. In our zeal to expose the faults (real or imagined) of some brother, we expose ourselves to the world as a divided, wrangling sect. Why would anyone want to become a part of such a group?
Brethren, use a little common sense in your disputes. First, deal with individual differences as privately as possible. Do you recall "show him his fault in private?" (Matthew 18:15). When matters go beyond individual differences, "tell it to the church" not the world. There are several ways to accomplish that, such as writing letters, phoning, or e-mail. Most problems should be handled individually or congregationally. What brother Soinso is saying or doing on the other side of the country is really not my business or yours. And it is certainly not the world's business. Preachers need to be reminded, sometimes, that God did not give us a national or universal government. He gave us elders.
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." (Galatians 5:13-15, NASB)