Sucking the Life Out of People

Sucking the Life Out of People May 15, 2019

Of Monsters and Men

As a culture we are obsessed with destructive monsters. I mean, how many vampire movies and TV shows do we really need? “Always one more” seems to be the answer. In the last decade or so, zombies have also made a major comeback, spurred on by the success of shows like “Walking Dead.” What do all these monsters have in common? They eat or suck the very life force out of people. Blood and flesh are consumed so that they can stay alive.

As gross and disgusting as that all sounds, thankfully these fictional creatures don’t exist…at least physically. But what about spiritually and emotionally? Would it be too harsh to call people spiritual vampires and spiritual zombies—sucking the very life out of people? This is exactly what Paul was talking about in Galatians 5:13. He says the following:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13-15

Paul does something interesting here. He starts with the problem (abusing freedom in Christ), states the solution (love), then gives an example of the problem (biting and devouring). The Galatian Christians thought that since they had been freed from the law and had received grace, they could just do anything. As though standards and morals were unimportant in light of grace. But Paul makes it clear that freedom from the law does not mean we can live however we want to. There is a proper way to conduct our lives as we live in gratitude to God’s grace. He gives an example of what it means to indulge the sinful nature in verse 15: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” A better translation of that word “destroyed” is “consumed.”  Sounds very cannibalistic doesn’t it? So what is Paul talking about? It seems like there were some in their midst who were not loving one another. Seemingly, their words and actions towards one another were cruel—almost violent—causing Paul to use this imagery of eating one another. Paul basically calls them vampires and zombies.

Eating Pieces

But Paul is in good company. This isn’t the first time that such imagery is used in the Bible. In the Aramaic portions of Daniel we find an astounding idiom. Daniel 3:8 states the following: “At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.” Basically some of these officials were not happy with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they were not bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar’s 90-foot idol. Though the idiom is translated “to denounce” or “to accuse maliciously,” the literal meaning is “to eat the pieces.” In the same way, in Daniel 6 the other leaders, jealous of Daniel’s rise to prominence, tried to use his piety to convict him. After Daniel was delivered and exonerated, the king took these men who “ate the pieces” of Daniel and threw them into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:24).

This phrase, “ate the pieces,” is so stark—as though the defamers are literally gnawing on parts of people with their words. But we have similar idioms in English:

nitpicking
tearing them a new one
picking them apart
shredding

All these phrases dealing with words carry some sort of violence being enacted upon the subject of the words. This is what Paul is getting at in Galatians 5. People were being hurt as others could not control themselves or their tongues. Though we teach our kids the mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” words do hurt and lead to all sorts of awful consequences. It is worse when it happens in the church—a place that is supposed to be safe and free from such attacks. And yet, as much as we try put on our Sunday Christian personas and separate our actions outside the church from those when we walk through the doors, our words still come through. When we attack each other verbally, we may as well be sucking the blood from one another like vampires. Just feeding off the life of other people. Consuming whatever is before us through our negativity.

I was struggling to find a good and appropriate vampire photo, so my son whipped one up on MS Paint. Amazing isn’t it?

Vampirism out of control

America earned the “consumeristic” label long ago. We consume, gorge, and stuff ourselves until the point of bursting. But this consumption is not limited to food alone. We consume goods, resources, and at times each other. We are gluttonous vampires…

feeding on one another
devouring one another
destroying one another

Spiritual vampires suck the very life from the church through dissension, complaining, negativity, critiquing, and gossiping. It’s not always the confrontative words that kill—it’s the secret murmurings just below the surface that sap strength and life from a congregation.

Our world tells us that it’s a “dog eat dog world,” and they are right. But it’s humans we’re talking about—not dogs. We are feeding on each other. Building ourselves up by tearing each other down. It’s not right. It’s not helpful. It’s not how Christ would have us live. Paul paraphrases Jesus in verse 14: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:14

That’s it. That’s the cure to our spiritual vampirism. That’s how we drive a stake through critical spirits in the church—by loving each other. But not just any kind of love—the same measure of love that you would give to yourself. Who among us is going to tear down our reputation and be hypercritical about our work publicly? None of us. We desire accolades, encouragement, and approval. And so does everyone else.

If we feel like our world is full of negativity and we are frustrated and depressed because nothing seems to be going right, maybe we should take a look at ourselves first.  What are we doing to bring about life to other people? What are we doing to encourage, love, and spur one another on towards love? Could it be that we are creating our own negative world?

Channeling our inner Buffy

I read about a study that was done in a corporate environment where criticizing and praising were actually tabulated and the reactions measured. Here is what they found:

  • When there was one praise for each criticism, people felt as though they had a totally negative relationship with their boss.
  • When the ratio was changed to two praises to one reprimand, people still thought their boss was all over them.
  • It wasn’t until they got to a ratio of four praises to one criticism that people began to feel as if they had a good relationship with their boss.

And we wonder why there is a feeling of discouragement and negativity in churches, homes and workplaces. It’s because there is too much complaining and criticizing and not enough encouraging.

It’s time for us to drive a stake into our vampire hearts and stop sucking the life, joy and vitality from one another.

May we bear with one another in love.
May we see the good in one another and treat one another with patience and encouragement.
May we spur one another onto good deeds.
May we be life givers and not life suckers.

Good stuff, as always from the people at Radio Free Babylon. http://www.radiofreebabylon.com/
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Timothy Hans Kurnia

    Hi Samuel, I believe wholeheartedly about the need to be loving in light of being spiritually freed, but I personally don’t think it’s sustainable or at least just one sided not to mention the aspect holding people accountable for their actions.. I mean, I think there’s a place for discipline in church in particular and society in general. I’ve never been able to reconcile between those two, would you touch on that area…?

  • katie99

    Like Timothy, I agree that we have a tendency, in church and in the rest of our lives, to drag others down emotionally. It reminds me of the Hebrew concept of “lashon hara,” or “evil tongue.” But how do we balance the need to treat each other well in words as well as actions with legitimate needs for redress of mistreatment? After all, while some crimes might be obvious—such as sexual assault and abuse within religious communities—many ordinary interactions can result in hurtful misunderstandings. One person’s harm might be another’s help. How do we engage on these possible wrongs without descending into “devouring” each other?
    Thank you for the post. This is something I think about a great deal, and I appreciate religious perspectives on it.

  • Samuel Long

    Thanks for the comment Timothy. I would agree that Christians do not have the authority to hold someone outside the church accountable for their actions. The reason is simple – that person has not agreed to a standard to which they are being held accountable. So this post is definitely addressing Christians in the context of the Church. We are people who have put ourselves under the authority of one another of our own free will. And while our world bristles at the idea of “judging,” as Christians we should welcome it as those who seek holiness.

    All that being said, it should not change the way in which we interact with those outside the church. Our words should always be life giving. Sometimes that is encouraging. Sometimes we can make observations about where ones choices and lifestyle may take them. But always understanding that they have not put themselves under the Lordship of Christ, and so are held to a different standard.

    We have a recent podcast in which we discuss the role of the church as the moral conscience in the world. Would love to have you take a listen and get your feedback.
    https://afterclass.libsyn.com/219-more-straightening-out

  • Iain Lovejoy

    There is surely no conflict between “discipline” and loving if the purpose of discipline is always the rescue of the disciplined from something that is harming themselves and others, and the model of discipline an intervention rather than a trial.

  • Timothy Hans Kurnia

    I see. Thanks for the reply sister.

  • Timothy Hans Kurnia

    I personally think the issue is that we draw the wrong line as to what things are considered to be hurtful to another. I think there were some philosophical movements in the past that make a great deal of having colorful emotions (and that we should cherish them), and I think they went as far as making us perceive that what is good must be good must be thoroughly good. I hope this makes sense to you as much as it does to me when writing it.

  • Ron Peters

    Hi Timothy. I don’t know if it address you comment, but I just posted a blog at Walk and Word that discusses judgment and community discipline. Perhaps I get into what you’re talking about here.

  • Bria Lapoint

    Well. I wont say much, but i guess what i will say, is spriitual vampires feed off of certain ideals. Believe what you wish, it isnt my place to say youre wrong, but i do notice that certain entities usually go for certain people. Mainly people that think magic and Paganism is icky.

  • bill wald

    A few years ago, we had a psychic vampire attend our church a few times. He was in his 30’s and confined to a wheelchair.I asked him if there was anything I could do for him. I took him to lunch and a movie. It was the most tiring day of my life. Somehow, his comments and requests sucked out my energy and zapped me. He was not rude or impolite. Can’t put in into better words.

  • Faith L Sochay

    Thank you for this. This really connected for me and reminded me to be extra careful with words!

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Vampires or Enerophages are everywhere. This is a natural thing; we all absorb energy from our surroundings. Ever feel down and then go to a Mall or Sporting event and come back full of energy? You’re an Enerophage, an energy eater and you’re perfectly normal. Everybody does it; absorbing vital energy when that energy is in excess due to excitement. When excited, people radiate excess life energy. That’s not the problem.
    What is, is the small group of people who have decided to deliberately excite people so they can gain vital energy from them. They do this by exciting them, usually by passive-aggressive behaviour, causing their victim to lose energy via excitement and then consuming it themselves. Ever had an argument with someone that left you exhausted and drained – even though you proved your point? You were hit by an eneropage, drained to provide them with “food”.
    How to avoid this? Simple, stay calm no matter what. Do not rise to provocations. Disengage rather than fight. Stay in control of yourself. You will become disinteresting to the “vampire” and said enerophage will go away. These people are often referred to as Trolls, Jerks, Hostiles, – the list is endless. What you can do, positively, is to deny them life energy and cause them to lose interest in you as a “meal”.
    Oh, and they are NOT undead, animated corpses, demonic beings. They’re just people who have decided to steal life energy from others rather than generate it themselves and in a way they’re pathetic parasites. Avoid them and deny them and they won’t bother you.

  • a Nagual in Arizona

    It’s interesting to hear terms like “psychic vampire” used in a setting like this. I first became aware of psychic/ energy vampires some thirty years ago- in the writings of, and conversations with, New Age and Wicca practitioners. The Christians I knew, my own family members, pooh-poohed it as nonsense at best, “satanic” at worst.

  • Shoshanna Cohen

    Trump unleashed his rascist vampires followers on our country. I can’t wait until demographics takes its toll on them all and we inherit a kinder, better rainbow country ruled by social justice and equality. According to demographers, this will happen around 2040. I pray to Hecate I will be alive to see that day when the vampiric White walkers are finally defeated.

  • Tommy Moehlman

    I don’t have anything constructive to add but all your subtitles reminded me of indie rock and metal bands.

  • AntithiChrist

    “Be excellent to one another.”

    — Bill & Ted

    Beautiful life advice. It’s unlikely though that either of these simple guys would spot the irony of a blog post written by a very nice person who nevertheless likely celebrates the reanimation of a different dead person by symbolically drinking that dead person’s blood and eating their flesh, and then bringing up zombies and vampires in a negative metaphorical light.

    Sometimes we accidentally take irony to rapturous new heights.

  • WaveDave

    Amen!

  • steve Cole

    Do you want to become a Sanguine vampire… or do you just want a taste?
    Whatever your desire, we can fulfill it! Contact our Elixir Vampire Home at elixirtemple@outlook.com

    Be sure you want it,
    because there’s
    no turning back…
    Our highly skilled vampires can alter your very essence, turning you
    into a real vampire.

  • fractal

    I always think of complementarianism as a great example of vampirism.

    Instead of each individual developing both the active and receptive principle inside of themselves, they divvy up qualities into genders, and make themselves half of a real person who must feed off the qualities of their partner to become whole.

    Subtle degrees of domination and servitude is neither loving nor Godly.

  • Donna Carlisle

    I’m Donna from USA Florida. I know there are real vampires out there but have little hopes in a possibility of actually finding any and knowing it if i did lol. I’ve wanted to be a vampire for the past 7 years since the twilight and drac obsession started. Ohh wells though prolly best i haven’t put too much effort into the whole vamp trans thing though Just chills out everybody. After many years searching on how to become a vampire i finally meet Mr Vincent Muller the vampire lord who help me make my dream come true now I’m real powerful vampire. If you wanna become a vampire email him via vampirelordcenter @ gmail. com Good Luck to you.

  • Kelly

    My Name is Kelly Williams from Canada, i turn to a vampire any time i want to, I become a real vampire because of how people treat me, This world is a wicked world and not fair to any body. At the snack of my finger things are made happened. Am now a powerful vampire and no one step on me without an apology goes free. I turn to human being also at any time i want to. And am one of the most dreaded and respected person in my country. i am now also very famous and rich with the help of the VAMPIRES EMPIRE. i get what ever a want. i become a vampire through the help of my friend who introduce me into a vampire Kingdom by given me their email: templeofsuccessandlove1@gmail.com, if you want to become a powerful and a real vampire kindly contact the vampire kingdom on their email: templeofsuccessandlove1@gmail.com for help. it is real. Contact them today. templeofsuccessandlove1@gmail.com.