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Friendly Fire?

The war-time occurrence of "friendly fire" reminds us that not all the bombs are dropped on the enemy On April 17, 2002, American fighter-plane pilot Harry Schmidt dropped a bomb that killed 4 Canadians and wounded 8 more in a "friendly-fire" bombing incident in Afghanistan. The United States Air Force spared Schmidt and fellow-pilot Bill Umbach of the Illinois Air National Guard from court martial, but both are receiving other lesser forms of punishment because of the incident (The Tennessean, 6/20/03, p 13A).  

In the recent war in Iraq, a number of American and other coalition forces suffered casualties from "friendly fire." Friendly-fire is when you are shot by a fellow-soldier or ally who thinks you are the enemy. Mark 6:1-6 records a case of "friendly-fire" aimed at Jesus. At a synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, people who had known Christ from His childhood rejected the miraculous words and works of the Son of God with these very unfriendly words: " 'Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?' And they were offended at Him." In what may or may not have been the same incident, Luke records that they 'were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff" (4:28b-29). Remember, all this happened in a synagogue in Nazareth "where He had been brought up" (Luke 4:16). 

The Bible condemns "friendly-fire" in the church: "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it def 1 les the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and is set on f ire by hell ... With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God ... My brethren, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:6-10). Later James bluntly says, "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren" (4:11a). It seems the first thing some people do every day is brush their teeth and sharpen their tongue. Friendly-fire is causing spiritual casualties in the church. Gossip, slander, saying about others behind their backs what you won't say to their face, and unfounded criticism - all have this in common: they are all sins, condemned in the word of God, no matter how popular they are in the church. Bombs and bullets may come from a so-called friend, but they are just as fatal as those delivered by an enemy. Friendly-fire in the church cools friendships, harms fellowship, and bums reputations. Help extinguish it by refusing to speak (or receive) evil about others.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ