The Ties That Blind . . .
Breathing fire, he balefully examined us. After a few suspenseful moments he muttered an inaudible threat – repeated seemingly unwillingly but far too clearly: “I will come to your church only if you do not preach about ‘loving my brother’. No songs, no sermons – at the first mention I will leave and never return”.
We were, unofficially, “The First Church Of The Wafflebacks”. Cheap white plastic stacking chairs with ridged crisscross backs – definitely leaving impressions. Brown paper hymnals piled in the corner awaited eager praising voices. Behind the makeshift pulpit our pool table took too much center stage, but we were definitely a “make do” church in its infancy.
Mandy and Tim were our very first members – friend Mandy, happily recruited from where she and I worked, and her rather unwilling husband Tim. They were the first to sit in our waffleback chairs, Bibles in hand.
Several meetings and sweet fellowship, a good friendship had begun. Quiet Tim was a surprise – he was short, wiry and very strong, a hard worker and somewhat of a risk taker. He worked building construction and was afraid of nothing. I recall my husband and Tim wrestling a clothes dryer down rickety steps to the basement. I bit my nails all the way down for them both.
It was terribly eating at Mike – the “love not my brother” part of Tim. Tim was such a decent fellow, sweet and earnest, a professing Christian. His bitter animosity towards his brother did not equate. But he refused to bring the subject up. I could not draw Mandy out about this black hatred Tim was experiencing.
Mike does not ignore challenges well. He just had to find out what was bugging Tim. He preached on I John 3:15. That was the last we ever saw of Mandy and Tim.
Months later, during a three hour car ride, while reading the Oregonian Newspaper, I espied a brief blurb describing a horrific accident, naming Tim as the victim.
Tim was a very good building contractor, in partnership with his brother. They were constantly embittered, embattled – a seemingly incomprehensible situation for co owners of such a potentially dangerous business. One day their animosity flamed to such a pitch that they actually came to physical blows. Tim wound up in the hospital, his eyes so battered he could barely see.
Furious Tim, not the sort who flinched from confrontation, painfully and shakily went back to work the day he was released from the hospital. Still suffering terrible pain, half blind still, he managed to climb the long metal ladder to the unfinished roof of the structure his brother and he had commissioned. He was still breathing fire and damnation against his despised brother.
Despite the fact he could not see out of either eye, and the warning shouts of the horrified men working with them, Tim walked very carefully along the roof – and then, horrifyingly stepped into a hole, falling several stories to the unyielding concrete floor.
Mercifully, he died instantly.
KJV 1 John 2: 9 “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.”
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”
KJV 1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”
In summation: Hate your brother? Watch how and where you walk . . .
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