The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has on its website an article on what to do to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. I’m not making this up.
In a blog post titled “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” the director of the CDC wrote: “Take a zombie apocalypse for example…..You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”
The rest of the article explains how the American people should prepare for hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and yes, the spread of flesh-eating walking dead monsters.
This creative campaign to raise awareness about the need to prepare for any natural disaster was a huge success; it went viral, as it were. The zombie post caused the site’s traffic to spike from an unremarkable flatline of 3,000 views per week to a seismic 30,000 hits a day. The ingenuity of the campaign was lost on some curmudgeons who carped in the comments section about tax dollars being wasted on zombie preparedness. *Sigh*
Pastors are always on the alert to another viral threat, just as pernicious as any infectious outbreak. It lurks in the pews and lobbies of churches the world over. This disease spreads from person to person, draining churches of joy, unity, and holiness. An outbreak is hard to contain and the disease itself is difficult to cure.
I’m referring of course to the seditious sin of grumbling and complaining.
Last time we looked at:
- THE SCOPE OF GRUMBLING: all things, trivial and serious
- THE SPECIES OF GRUMBLING: grumbling and back-chatting
Today we look at the third aspect of the joy-sapping sin of complaining:
- THE SEDITION OF GRUMBLING
Phil 2:14-15 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
Understanding that sedition is a form of rebellion, which spreads easily, the two reasons that complaining is so seditious are found in this passage…
A. COMPLAINING IS CONTRARY TO GOD
To God, our complaining about a situation he has allowed into our life is offensive. Because of Jesus’ death, we are in a relationship with God, he is our Father, we are his children, he loves us and he provides for us. To complain about what he has handed to us is to slap away the gracious hand of providence.
Grumbling is saying that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is not sufficient to bring me joy, I also need the right weather, spouse, finances, health or job in order to be joyful.
When a kid looks at the meal Mom prepared and squeals, “Yuck Mom! There’s nothing on this plate I like.” A patient motherly response might be “The reason you don’t like what I’ve served is because your tastes are self-destructive and foolish. If you got what you wanted you’d eat custard and cookies all day long; you’d be happy for a while, and then you’d die.”
When you grumble about the traffic or the weather or your boss or your spouse or your church leadership aren’t you just declaring, “Yuck God, I don’t like anything you’ve served up for me in my life. Why don’t you give me what I want?” Spot the spoilt brat in the mirror.
You might not say it quite this way, you might say: did you read what the elders have decided to do? did you see the amount of work my boss gave me to do? But in fact you are actually just saying “Yuck God!”
Next time you are tempted to grumble and whine about something, ask yourself this: Is God in control of this? Do I trust that he is good to me, loves me, and cares for me?
Then don’t grumble.
B. COMPLAINING IS CONTAGIOUS TO OTHERS
The reason Paul says we should not grumble and dispute is because we are supposed to influence the world for good, not for evil: “…children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15)
When you join the unbelievers’ chorus of complaints, you are dimming your light, you are blending in with those who have no God. As a Christian you need to be the brightest light in the room, bringing the hope and joy of God’s perspective on crime and politics and the economy or whatever.
Remember the twelve spies in Numbers 13 who returned from the Promised Land? Joshua and Caleb came back salivating with optimism, but the other ten moaned and groaned that a conquest was impossible. The contagion of the ten Debbie Downers spread like a zombie epidemic to the whole nation. So God killed them (see Numbers 14:37).
Paul tells us that God did this in order to teach us:
1 Cor 10:9-11 “We must not … grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, …”
God is exceedingly serious about the seditious sin of complaining, so do all things without grumbling or disputing.
How on earth do we communicate constructive criticism or comment on distressing events without crossing the line into sin? Good question. Watch this space! (March 7 will see the final instalment of this mini series).