Snake in the Church!
Scripture: “You have not lied to men, but to God.” -Peter in Acts 5:4
Last month, I was speaking in Samaria Baptist Church, Goma, Congo.
Suddenly two men sitting by the side door jumped up and began scuffling outside the doorway.
Initially I thought it was a fight.
Then I wondered if someone had fallen.
Eventually, the men returned to their seats as the congregation murmured excitedly in Swahili.
When I sat down, my interpreter John whispered, “They just killed a poisonous snake in the doorway.” He held up two fingers in a “fang-striking” motion: “Very bad snake.”
I’m still known as “Mr. Snake” in Dry Creek from my biology teacher days, so later I went outside to view the snake.
The men took me to where they’d tossed it. It was small—about two-feet long. They’d stoned it with the volcanic rock that is found everywhere in Goma.
As they explained in excited Swahili, I came to realize it was a young black mamba. They worriedly watched me as I poked it with a stick.
Upon returning home, I researched about the black mamba. It is the most feared African snake because of its toxic venom and large size (up to eight feet.) A mamba bite is usually a death sentence in rural Africa. It’s an olive-colored snake that derives its name from its black mouth. Our elevation in Goma (over 4000 ft) was at the mamba’s upper limit.
There are two spiritual truths from this snake story:
1. The men took this snake and its proximity to their church very seriously. They stoned it with reckless abandon; no holds barred. I’m reminded of how seriously God takes sin in His church. Read Acts 5 and the story of a feckless couple named Ananias and Sapphira.
2. It was a small snake but that didn’t make it any less deadly. Even a small black mamba’s poison is strong enough to kill a human. We shouldn’t neglect sin (in our lives or our church) because they’re “small.”
Small sins, like small snakes, can kill.
Small snakes invariably will grow into big snakes, unless killed.
Small sins always grow unless eradicated.
Lord, teach me to take my sin as seriously as you do.
My sin bothered you so much, you gave up your own Son to remove it.
Teach me to recognize, forsake, and destroy the sins, small or large, that hinder my growth with you. Amen.