Friday, January 07, 2005

Traditions (Church)

How It All Began! [2 Corinthians 5:18-6:10; other topics - Apathy; Apostasy; Power (in the Church)]

It all began in a cage containing five apes. In the cage a banana was hung on a string, stairs were placed under the banana. Before long, an ape went over to the stairs and started to climb. As soon as he touched the stairs, someone outside the cage sprayed all the apes with ice water.

In a few minutes, another ape began to make his way up the stairs toward the banana, again all the apes were sprayed with ice water. As the day wore on, several more attempted to reach the banana; each time the result was the same: the other [more experienced] apes physically stopped him.

At this time, one of the original apes was removed and replaced by a new one. The new ape roamed around for a minute; then he spied the banana. Immediately, he made his way to the stairs. To his horror, all the other apes attacked him. After another attempt and attack, he realized if he tried to climb the stairs, he’d be assaulted again.

Soon another of the original apes was removed; like the other, he was replaced by a new ape. This newcomer saw the banana and the stairs right away; he wasted no time going for the prize. But, lo, he was attacked savagely. Interestingly, the previous newcomer took part in the punishment of this upstart, doing it with enthusiasm.

Still a third member of the original group was replaced by a new one. The new ape made a turn toward the stairs but was attacked before getting there. Strangely, two of the four apes that beat him had no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they were participating in the beating of each newcomer.

After replacing the fourth and final apes, all of those who had been sprayed with ice water were gone. None of the current occupants of the cage ever again approached the stairs they only looked longingly at the banana.

Why not? Because that’s the way it had always been around there and that’s how their group traditions were formed.

Paul told us we should fight the good fight, but he intended that our fight be against the enemies of the cross. Little did he know how many wolves would infiltrate the church, or what effect it would have on the children of God.

God hung a banana over the work of every church;. He knew it would not be easy to reach, what with the opposition guaranteed to come, but He desires we persist in spite of hardships and headaches, ice water, and beatings. Many churches earnestly recruit new apes ... but, more often than not, the minute he turns toward the prize that’s before him, he’s beaten back by his fellow apes.

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