You Want I Should Take Care of This For You, Lord? Hit Men At-Large in the Church

Before you stage an intervention, I KNOW I should give up listening to talk radio on my way to work but, seriously, one just never knows what one will hear!
Rhode Island is the smallest state but we have been twice-blessed with an abundance of colorful citizens.
This week, the popular subject of discussion is a feud in Cranston, RI. Two neighbors there have been at odds for years. Well call them Bob and Ed (okay, because those are their names). Bob has been fighting cancer and his enemy, Ed, next door, posted a sign that read “Glad you have cancer so die stupid.”

Not very articulate but Ed made his mean-spirited, angry point. (Ed went on record last night admitting that it was wrong to write the sign and he regrets that. However, he explained that he has arthritis in his middle finger and can do nothing about the fact that it sticks up at all those who are protesting outside his home.) I couldn’t make this stuff up!

So, Bob and Ed are not even the part of this story that interest me. During the radio show with Bob, a caller sporting the accent of a RI thug (one episode of the Sopranos will give you the picture), called to assure Bob that he would be “taking care of this Ed, character. Don’t you worry about it no more, Bob. It’s taken care of. He won’t bother nobody never again.”

The talk show host and Bob both assured the caller that he did not have to take matters into his own hands. The police are involved. “The police don’t know how to take care of such things in a permanent fashion, Bob. Don’t worry about nothing. I have cancer. I am old. I do not have long to live. It will be my honor to dispose of this matter for you so this man never bothers you again. Consider it done. Fuggetaboutit.”

Only in Rhode Island.

Besides making me horrified and making me laugh, the caller made me think about vigilantes in the church. I mean, honestly, when some of us decide to confront others on their sin, we must sound as thug-like and indelicate as this caller.

“Is this woman’s choice of apparel bothering you, Jesus? Allow me the honor of taking her for a little walk. Don’t you even worry about it. It’s taken care of. She will not bother you again with her hemline or the grotesque flaunting of her fleshly nature. It’s done. It’s taken care of. Fuggetaboutit.”

We are supposed to point out sin to a brother or sister in Christ but some of us seem to have the version of the Bible where those verses are in a large, bold font while all other instructions have been shrunk to where they are nearly impossible to read.

It’s hard enough to discuss someone’s sin within the context of a trusting, loving relationship but when we linger in darkened church alleys and assault those with whom we have only a passing acquaintance, then really, we’re not much better than spiritual hitmen. I suppose there may be an occasion where that comes from the Holy Spirit (I would never put limits on the Spirit’s leading) but the larger message of the New Testament leans toward developing close fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the usually proper context for correction.

Paul wrote this to the church in Galatia: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:1-5

We should restore one another GENTLY.

Too many Christians have sanctified their brass knuckles and then call it standing up for the truth of Jesus Christ. Here’s the truth – it’s hard work to be in the type of loving, trusting, intimate fellowship to which we are called but that is the expected context for correction and discipline.

So, let’s do ALL the work, loved ones. Let’s not be snipers for Christ – striking our target from a safe and anonymous distance.

The next time you catch yourself thinking you need to correct someone, imagine yourself sidling up to Jesus saying, “So’s do you wants that I should take care of this person for you, Lord. Just say the word and it will be my honor to address the matter permanent-like.”

Then, have a serious conversation with Jesus about your current role in that brother or sister’s life – should you go deeper with them before you start pointing out what’s wrong, should you spend more time in prayer? I don’t know but the Holy Spirit does.

Maybe I missed it but the spiritual gift of “hit man” is not listed in my version of scripture. If you find it, let me know. Otherwise – fuggetaboutit.

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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. David Todd says:

    Only in Cranston, my delightful home town. Home to Ali McGraw’s character in “Love Story” and to those two idiots in “Dumb and Dumber”.

    Nice post, uknowwhatimean?

  2. Karin says:

    Seriously – funny, yet so right on the mark!

  3. You slay me. Lori. But only in a good way. In Oklahoma, this neighbor would probably call himself “Bubba.” Love the message. God bless.