Last week we discussed a lesson from flying — in the event of cabin de-pressurization you should attach your oxygen mask first — even before assisting your children — for the reason if you’re disabled you’ll be of little use to others. But one idea remains — some people are able to assist others, while others run away. What difference exists between those who defend and those who can’t?
Only two kinds of people exist — wolves and sheep (predator and prey). Okay, that’s not exactly true. A third exists: sheepdog.
Sheepdogs posses all the abilities and characteristics of the wolf, with one exception: how they use those abilities. Wolves use their skills in pursuit of evil, while sheepdogs protect and defend others (sheep, of course, are blindly oblivious to their surroundings, and live on Fantasy Island — da plane, da plane!).
Sheepdogs posses the ability to put aside what they want in service and defense of others. It’s the military people defending the country, the firemen rushing into danger while everyone else runs away, the policeman engaging violent scum so others can sleep safe at night.
Sadly, in the church, wolves exist as well. In fact, wolves try to pass themselves off as sheep, making them doubly dangerous.
Matthew 7 warns about false prophets coming as a sheep, but inside are ravenous wolves. The Kingdom parables in Matthew 13 do not mean the church will grow and be a wonderful influence on the world until we all sit around a campfire singing KumByYa and making s’mores.
No, Matthew 13 warns the church will be impure, and contain wolves.
Wolves try anything to get you away from the truth and the rock-solid stability of God’s Word.
What can be done? You’re told to be wise as a serpent, yet gentle as a dove. The first means to figure out what’s going on, and the second regards how you react with what you know.
It’s popular today to speak of the church having to modernize itself for today’s society. You know, the “seeker-friendly” idea where nobody mentions sin, responsibility, or hell, and instead we should all just love each other (that means anything goes).
Besides Jesus himself, who is the one person most associated with love? You know, the guy who should know?
The apostle John. Listen to what the apostle of love has to say:
If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. (2 John 10–11 NLT).
Whoops. Doesn’t sound like John endorses anything-goes. Instead, he’s in the role of sheepdog — telling the flock wolves exist, and you must be on guard for them.
John isn’t afraid to name people and call them out either.
I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church. (3 John 9–10 NLT)
If the apostle of love tells you not to associate with people who pervert the Gospel and truth of Christ, why then does much of the church do so? Are we so lacking pastor sheepdogs? Or are pastors afraid to speak the truth? Or do they lack the characteristics of sheepdogs?
Being a sheepdog isn’t as simple as saying “gee, I’m going to be a sheepdog today.”
The price is continuous vigilance, consistent training, and the desire to run towards the crisis when others run away. It means boldly speaking the truth, even when people don’t want to hear it. It means acknowledging truth is truth, truth is never relative, and the Gospel never changes.
This day as you read this, you’ve got a choice: sheep, wolf, or sheepdog?
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust, or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip, and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door. (Lt. Co. Dave Grossman, “On Combat”, page 184–185)
In short, it’s what we’ve talked about for years — you must decide before the situation presents itself how you’ll react. If you were standing with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, would you be ready? Are you ready — as Peter says — to give every man an answer?
The church frequently doesn’t want to hear these things, but that does not make them less true. Bury your head in the sand, or acknowledge truth. It’s your choice.
As John Loeffler says: failure to be informed does not make me a wacko.
… because it’s 2:59AM, and the wolf is at the door.