Different thoughts might be conjured when I use the word, “creep.” An insulting remark, as in, “That person is a creep,” might be one of them. Or, it could mean moving slowly close to the ground, such as, “He was quick to creep toward the door on his hands and knees to escape the burglar.” Or, the slow movement of time, as in, “The minutes were creeping by like hours as I waited for work to be over for the day.” Or, it could refer to something that freaks you out, for example, “The thought that I almost walked into the huge web with the spider staring right at me made my flesh creep.” Or, any bug could be called, “a creeping thing,” as it is called in the scriptures (Gen. 1:24). Or, perhaps the word could be used to mean something that gradually shifts to a different position, such as, “The extreme temperature of the engine caused the turbine blade to creep.” Or, creep might apply to a plant that expands or spreads over intervals of time, as in, “Creeping junipers are ground-hugging shrubs that are admired for their evergreen foliage.”
There’s also something called, “function creep.” And this is what I would like us to ponder a little more closely in this post. I came across this term recently when I saw an article titled, “Function Creep: Surveillance in London,” in a blog dated July 17, 2007. (thesamovar.wordpress.com). The writer voiced concerns that due to new technology government was exploiting function creep. Therefore, the government could introduce one useful technology that could function as a different unpopular kind thereby creeping beyond what was originally intended. One example is government issued ID cards. What starts out as a well-intentioned, non-compulsory tool for keeping statistics and maintaining civil order, could creep into a compulsory situation that would invade personal privacy and abuse civil liberties.
Surveillance cameras are another example. While on one hand, they function for the purpose of curbing crime and, especially terrorism, they could also be used to spy on innocent individuals for exploitive reasons. It brings to mind George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, where every citizen is repeatedly reminded, “Big Brother is watching over you.” In other words, the government is Big Brother who, on one hand, promises to provide for your protection and security but, on the other hand, is really suppressing your freedom and rights.
Interestingly, the potential danger of function creep is cautioned in the scriptures. Even though the term is modern, the problem it presents goes back to ancient times. The Apostle Peter was referring to a type of function creep when he opined that some of the elders were guilty of “lording it over their heritage.” Apparently, they were creeping or exceeding their authority for making a profit out of their office (1 Peter 5:3).
Jesus also contended with the scribes and Pharisees who creeped from their function as religious leaders to take advantage of disadvantaged Jews at that time. The seven woes Jesus pronounced against them in Matthew 23 include many examples of their exploits against the people. The Lord criticized them for their hypocrisy saying, “Consequently, you bear witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets,” (v. 31). And we know how the creep of these religious leaders led to the plot to kill Jesus (Matt. 26:1-5; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:1).
As we think about conditions in the last days, the Book of Revelation prophesies function creep, as well. The formation of a one-world government will include “Big Brother” like never before where everyone will be affected by function creep. Through the creep of a powerful political leader (Rev. 13:1-10) and a powerful religious leader (Rev. 13:11-18) everyone will be required to submit to them economically, politically, and spiritually. And anyone who does not submit to them by having a certain ID (mark, name, or number) will suffer at the point of death (Rev. 20:4).
Function creep is creepy whether it occurs through human governments, false religions, technological advancement, or moral deterioration. When society loses its spiritual cohesiveness, vis-à-vis the teachings of God’s Word, it becomes vulnerable to the creep that creates division and disorder. The end result is disaster.
Function creep can happen in our own lives, as well. When we step beyond the bounds of our liberty in Christ, sins creep in. Paul cautioned about this in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Cp. 1 Cor. 8:9; 1 Peter 2:16.) In Galatians 6:8, the apostle adds, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
The problem of living according to the flesh is that we function beyond the limitations or restrictions God places upon us. No law is able to prevent it, either. When we choose to live according to our fleshly desires, bad actions creep into our lives producing bad results (Gal. 5:19-21). But the Good News is that when we live within the teachings based on the Spirit through Christ, then we prevent creep and enjoy the wonderful benefits from it (Gal. 5:22-23).
So, look out for that creep! Keep in touch with Jesus and you will not reap the creep that threatens to corrupt your Christian life. The coming reward will be worth it (Rev. 22:12).
Here are the Maranatha Singers singing “The Spirit Song,” http://youtu.be/o6arsF6RW5I
Good News to YOU!