Having been raised in the south where “coon hounds” were very much a part of life, I can recall a few times watching my uncle’s hunting dogs clawing and scratching their ears. Some unseen aggravation apparently was bringing them extreme discomfort and aggravation.
Sometimes my uncle would try to help by taking one of them aside and raising their floppy ears and looking inside for the trouble. Usually inside the canine’s ears a little insect had attached itself, and was gradually growing fat on the blood that it was drawing from the dog. In other words, he had a tick infestation.
Very carefully he would remove each one and crush it, which was quite a chore. Anyone who has ever tried to kill a tick knows that they are as tough an insect as is to be found anywhere. The bug’s life is spent in making a nuisance of himself sucking the blood from the veins of his host. It does not matter to him that he drives the animal crazy. All that matters to him is that he gets what he wants out of the deal. He carries numerous diseases and causes terrible pain to “man’s best friend.” He is concerned only for himself and getting what he wants.
A real parallel can be drawn between the blood-sucking vermin that inhabits the interior of a dog’s ear and some people and the problems that they create in the church of Christ. I think it is altogether in the scriptural tradition to do so. Jesus called Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:22), the unfaithful in Israel “vipers” (Matt. 12:34; 23:33); He likened the heathen gentiles to “dogs” (Matt. 15:26), and those who rejected the truth to “swine” (Matt. 7:6). Peter said those who return to a life of sin are like dogs lapping up their own vomit and a washed hog returning to the mud (2 Pet. 2:22). So then, I think it very much in line to liken church troubles and especially trouble makers to a tick in a dog’s ear.
To begin with, the troubles that occur within churches are most irritating and vexing. God placed the church in this sin-ridden world for the purpose of holding forth the Word of Life, Jesus and His message (Phil. 2:15-16). Yet, who would not admit that the strife that have arisen in local congregations have restrained and even squelched the work of Christ among men? Brethren spend much of their time arguing, bickering and fighting one another, instead of carrying the gospel to a lost and dying world. We are like that poor canine that should be out hot on the trail of a raccoon – but spends way too much of his “dog’s life” clawing and scratching and whining. How much more pitiable is the congregation irritated by the troublemaker! When John the apostle gave thought to one such menace to the common good, he made all aware that action was the answer: “Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does . . .” (3 Jn. 10).
It must also be noted that anyone that makes trouble is much like the little tick in that they are tough. Many times they have struggled through a number of previous battles and they have been toughened and made meaner by the skirmishes of yesteryear. Every new preacher that moves in thinks that he will be able to handle the problem. Soon he will also be a victim of the toxins that they emit – each in his turn. Most go down fighting, but they go down.
There is similarity between the two in the fact that the tick and the troublemaker both can, and at times do, kill their host. The host of the tick is a mere dog. However, the host of the troublemaker is a congregation of the household of faith. There is not a thing upon the face of this earth that is more precious than the Lord’s church. Jesus is preached there. The Bible is studied there. God is glorified in word and deed by those that worship there. It may be that the hope of the world will be sounded forth from there, and a whole multitude will hear and believe and become obedient. They are the body of Christ among men. Sometimes they all become discouraged and quit because of a single troublemaker who cares only for himself and getting whatever he desires. He kills his host. Howbeit, his host is not a worthless canine. It is the church of our Savior, and when he kills it, he kills the spiritual body of Jesus. Ticks kill their host for the sake of their own life and the lives of their offspring. He who troubles the body of Christ, however, has only pride to defend and save. Surely the tick is more to be admired!
There is a solution, though. It is not an easy one, nor is it pleasant. On that account it usually is put off until it either is not possible or would not do any good. Simply put, it is this: get rid of the trouble maker. Listen to Jesus: “Let him be unto you as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:17); and to Paul: “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18); “A factious man after a first and second admonition refuse; knowing that such a one is perverted, and sins, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:10).
There are so many congregations where there will be no success or progress until “the tick is pulled out”, and removed from its victim. I am not talking about the congregation where you worship, am I? Worse yet, I am not talking about you, am I?