Summary: Our Christian Brothers are often found in some unusual places. It should caution us about judging too quickly!
In this day and age, when there is so much competition and our litigation-crazed society encourages more division than healing, it is often easy for us as Christians to forget that we are supposed to be "living icons" of Jesus Christ to those around us.
We actually fight more among ourselves as Christians than non-Christians do among themselves. As I sit here in my study writing this down, my eyes have caught sight of the two-volume monumental reference WORLD CHRISTIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA that I acquired a couple of years ago and is now on my shelf off to my left. This ambitious work by Anglican scholar David Barrett is conveying a message of inspiration to me as I sit here, and what it is communicating to me is simple yet eye-opening. There are at least 35,000+ Christian denominations in the world today, and at least 500 new ones being formed every day, and many of them are in direct opposition to each other over some rather ridiculous issues. If one were to read Romans 12:4-5, it is easy to see something is direly amiss here; where have we as the Body of Christ gone wrong? I could spend more time on that than I intend to here, so I won’t go there at present. Rather, I wish to relate an experience that really brought home to me what Christianity is really supposed to be about.
Charles McGlocklin is a large-statured man who lives in the far northeastern corner of Alabama. Although he has about an 8th-grade education, he is by far one of the most fascinating people I have had the privelege of knowing. Do you ever just have this drawing to people as if there is a commonality of spirit with them and you? This has happened with me on rare occasions, and Bro. Charles is one of those. Charles is a strong and devout Christian who is gifted by the Holy Spirit with a strong sense of discernment and additionally he has a common sense that many a politician and preacher would be put to shame by. Many receiving this message haven’t the foggiest idea of who Charles McGlocklin is, and some of you could probably care less - that’s OK though. However, for me personally it has been a blessing to get to know this guy as a friend and fellow brother in Christ. Many will say,"Well, that’s wonderful, but what is the point?" This too is understandable. However, I left out a few very important and interesting details about Bro. Charles. For one, he is a preacher, and to those he ministers to he is known as the "End Time Evangelist." Although health has slowed him somewhat, he still is ministering actively. Now for the good part; some of you want to know what type of church this man pastors, and to answer that, all you have to do is go down to your local bookstore and find a small volume by an author by the name of Dennis Covington entitled SALVATION ON SAND MOUNTAIN. Dennis Covington devotes a lot of copy to Bro. Charles, for he is a dear friend also who has impacted Covington’s life in very profound and positive way. There is one slight difference here though that sets Charles McGlocklin apart from any other testimony you may have heard - Charles McGlocklin, the End-Time Evangelist, believes in taking up poisonous snakes as part of his faith. Yep, Bro. Charles is a snake-handling preacher, literally! Now, I know THAT got your attention at this point, and some who are getting this message may have to reach for the Nitro tablets or smelling-salts, but let me share something. God is no respector of persons, and His Word says that those who love the Lord Jesus Christ with their whole being are born again and are our brothers. Even though Charles McGlocklin takes up snakes as part of his own faith (a practice, I assure you, I don’t participate in personally!) he does love the Lord, believes in the Apostles’ doctrines, and there is a genuine witness with him that verifies he is the Lord’s own. How many of us can say this? That should challenge us to reflect a little.
I now want to look at a couple of Scriptures that are very important to what I am trying to say here. The first is I John 4:15, which says "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him and he in God." According to that criteria, Bro. Charles passes the test with flying colors. Let’s now proceed on to chapter 5 of the same letter and the first verse:
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begat also loves him who is begotten of Him." Ahhh...can WE measure up to this? Now for the clencher - in I John 4:21, we are given a commandment from the Lord; he who loves God must also love his own brother! That brings to mind Psalm 133:1 - behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in UNITY! These passages of Scripture tell me that oftentimes there is a bigger picture beyond our little boxes we trap ourselves in, yet we fail to look beyond the box. In order to achieve what we Eastern Orthodox Christians call Theosis (or Ihidaya in Syriac - literally "having the mind of Christ" and taking on attributes of His nature)in which we become "living icons" of Christ to those around us, we as believers need to display the love of Christ to each other. Charles McGlocklin is a person who does just that, and I find myself falling short of this example that the humble snake-handling Alabama preacher with the 8th-grade education sets for us. God forgive us -especially myself - for falling short of what God truly expects of us.