Disclaimer: This post is a religious perspective about our world today. For those offended by the Bible, or for those offended by a female having an opinion about the Bible – this is not the blog for you.
I am a strong proponent of the phrase, however cliche it may be, “As goes the home, so goes the church, and so goes the nation”. With that in mind, I’ve given a great deal of thought, Bible reading, and prayer to the events of the last few months in America. In addition, I’ve considered the word picture given in Psalms 100:3 likening God’s followers to sheep. I have also contemplated the New Testament verse 2 Corinthians 2:11, indicating that we do not have to be “taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his devices”. With those two verses as a springboard, a look into a veterinarian manual article titled “The Social Behavior of Sheep”, and my years of watching “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”, I began to take a strategic view of the possibility that a common enemy is currently attacking in some uncommon ways.
I am a sheep. I am not a wolf, but if I were a wolf, there are certain strategies available to make feasting on God’s flock easier. Here’s what I’d do:
First, I’d cause rebellion and confusion about the voice of The Shepherd . I’d bring that rebellion about in three primary ways: rebellion against God’s voice, rebellion against earthly fathers, and rebellion against godly spiritual leaders. Jesus’s words in John 10:27 remind us that His followers recognize and follow His voice. While this concept for some of us may bring to mind a Sunday School craft project involving cotton balls and construction paper, in Jesus’s culture the metaphor was much more applicable. Sheep, according to the “Merk Veterinary Manual”, recognize voices and faces for up to two years. If we as Christ’s followers are not hearing or recognizing His voice, perhaps it is because we are not intentional in seeking His face, or perhaps there has been a wolf diverting our attention. The enemy of our souls, Satan, has a great deal of longevity in this particular area having begun his work in Genesis 3 with the lie, “Has God said…”(Genesis 3:1). Eve bit the lie first and the fruit second, and the desire for knowledge of what is good and what is evil began corrupting the heart of man through rebellion against absolute truth. As one of the foremost Christian apologists of modern times, Ravi Zacharias, expressed, “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil gave man the idea that “he” [man] could choose what was good and what was evil without absolutes.” Rebellion against God’s truth as absolute has led us to current buzz words such as “live your own truth.” We are rapidly becoming a society without absolutes and as a result, rebellion against all authority is spiraling downward. When we see rebellion, whether it is in the streets or in the schoolroom, we can be certain that it’s seeds were planted long ago by a serpent in a garden.
If I were a wolf, I would be intentional about lack of respect for authority in the home. I am not original in noticing a blatant lack of respect for fathers in today’s media. Ward Cleaver is passé as the standard role model for genuine fatherhood; bumbling idiots such as Homer Simpson are today’s media standard. This is a strategic move, for God’s view of family is that the father would mirror Him in love, protection, and provision. With media’s twisted portrayal of fathers along with sad statistics from Pew Research revealing that “seventy-four percent of Christians are divorced or separated”, isn’t it time that the Church consider who is behind this attack? It doesn’t take a psychologist to recognize that where fathers are either absent or refuse to step into their God-given role, a child’s subsequent view of fatherhood and authority becomes confused and dysfunctional and potentially damaging to his or her view of God.
If I were a wolf, I would escalate confusion, dysfunction, and rebellion toward God by making sure there was an ample supply of false shepherds in houses of religion because godly headship in church was intended to serve as yet another picture of God Himself. Such falsehoods should not catch Christians by surprise for Jesus forewarned us that they would be present in Matthew 7:15. We are again warned in the book of Jude verses 3-4 with a listing of their characteristics telling us that false shepherds would: creep in unnoticed, presume upon the grace of God, deny Christ as master, indulge in immorality, follow their own lusts, and finally-reject authority. 2 Peter 2 parallels the book of Jude with reinforcing the thought of false teachers saying they would “despise authority”.
In addition to rebellion, if I were a wolf, I would seek to devour the sheep by isolating them. Those of us who have watched nature documentaries have seen the wolf single out the sick, or tired, or smallest of the flock for an easy snack. Today, as never before in modern history, American Christians are feeling the effects of isolation. COVID-19 has isolated us in ways we could have never imagined. While prudent isolation has been a necessary element to fight this virus, we as Christians must be diligent to stay connected in new ways to our local church body as we both pray for a cure and use common sense. Again referring to the “Social Behavior of Sheep” article, we find that sheep are meant to thrive in a flock, so much so that when sheep have to be isolated for medical attention, many times a mirror is placed in the pen to give the sheep a better chance of recovering without the additional stress of being alone. Similarly, scripture encourages us to stay connected in order to encourage and serve one another (Hebrews 10:23-25, 1 Corinthians 12:20). We are fashioned to be connected to others, but if we are not diligent we will become complacent and isolation will become the “new norm”. We must not allow that to be the final outcome of COVID-19 in Christianity.
If I were a wolf after I had given the flock a distorted view of authority and a good dose of isolation, I would cause division. Wolves are aware of the ways sheep fight. The Merck Manual describes fighting as one of two most likely ways rams die, the other being disease. The article explains that when sheep fight they lock eyes to begin the duel. The rams fight, often to the death, in this head to head or eye to eye position. When their eyes are only on each other, peripheral vision is non-existent. How many times do we use the phrase in our culture “locking horns”? How many times do Christians lock horns, usually over something trivial, with one another? We can take a look at today’s culture and see division in obvious ways. There is division between political parties. There is division between races. There is division between generations. As the church of Jesus Christ, we are needed now more than ever to set the standard for peace by keeping our eyes on Christ. We must recognize our part in any collateral damage by considering what or who is being destroyed by our lack of peripheral vision.
If I were a wolf I would feast, but I am not a wolf. I am a sheep. I can be aware of the ways a wolf might work, but the most beneficial thing I can do is follow The Good Shepherd. With that thought in mind tonight, I think this little lamb will refresh herself with Psalms 23.