Saturday, June 29, 2013

Where Are The Shepherds?

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;" Acts 20:28-29 

I recently befriended a sweet, warm Southern Carolinian sister in Christ who I'll call Lisa. She has beautiful sparkling blue eyes and a hospitable disposition. I've enjoyed spending time with her sharing our love for Jesus, walking, and watching our children play together. Beneath her sunny smile I found out she had a sad secret.

After getting to know Lisa for only a few months here in Southern California, she calls me from her native state to tell me that she had left her husband. I was dumbfounded, because I had no idea her marriage was in trouble. Her church in my town offered to pay for her and her children’s plane ticket to fly back to South Carolina to live with her mother. I thought, "What in the world is going on?!"

Let me rewind a bit. During one of our visits at a local park, Lisa shared with me that she was married before. Wolf #1 was a fine church going, charming, and handsome fellow who swept her off her feet only to spend the next ten years being beaten by him. She was from a beautiful and loving Christian upbringing, so living with such ugliness was a shock on many levels. After ten years Lisa finally fled from Wolf #1 and he eventually divorced her.

A few years later, Lisa meets Wolf #2 through a mutual friend who lived near Los Angeles and who was also very charming. He told her he loved Christ and sent her beautiful poetry with scripture and said all the right things. Wolf #2 was quieter and didn't show his fangs as often as Wolf #1. 

Lisa and Wolf #2 would spend hours conversing via Skype and the telephone. After a time of long distance courting, she married him and moved to his suburb with her son from her previous marriage, and they later had a little girl.

It didn't take Lisa long after the wedding to realize that something was wrong. Wolf #2 wouldn't work to support his new family and he was drunk half of the time. She also found thousands of downloaded pornographic images. To top it off, he would regularly not come home until as late (or early) as 5:00 a.m.

Lisa called me to tell me all of this and I can see why this would happen to my sweet, dear new friend. Honestly, I have never met a more Pollyanna romantic in my life. Her father died when she was young and her trusting child-like spirit wasn't the best at discerning wolves in sheep’s clothing. What Lisa needed desperately was a protector and her church should have filled that role.

A year later, Lisa called me to see how I was doing. She was very disappointed that her estranged husband showed no signs of repentance and desiring of reconciliation. I asked her if he was still going to the same church they went to together, and she told me he was.  I inquired if they've done church discipline with him as it states in Matthew 18, to possibly bring him to repentance, restore their family, or at least protect the women in that flock. She told me that the pastor felt sorry for him and didn't want to upset him. Wow! Talk about misplaced compassion. 

The sad thing is that these men I mean...e-hem...wolves, were professing Christians and regular church attendees. They grew up in church and were acclimated to the culture and language, but they where wolves in sheep's clothing. 

It made me think of the above verse in Act 20 that wolves would come in not sparing the flock. I always equated that with false teachers, but in Matthew 7:15-16 it mentions that wolves would be in sheep's clothing and not in shepherd's clothing.

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits."

This is just one family that could have been restored if the church would of responded biblically. The church should have taught, brought out sisters to warn and shepherds to protect Lisa. Also, why weren't these wolves sent out of the church for such behavior? 

The Bible says that we would know them by their fruits, so clearly biblical and compassionate church discipline should have nipped this in the bud long ago with both men. Why wasn't Lisa, who is a vulnerable sheep, protected by these predators? Both men who were raised in church, so you would think someone would of noticed their rotten fruit before they had a chance to ruin this woman and children’s lives.  

What it comes down to is there is an ignorance regarding the nature of the church and a lack of biblical church discipline by sheep and shepherds alike. Here is a sermon excerpt below that really helped me understand the role of the church and its leaders.

Protecting sheep is not a priority with most church leaders today. Keeping goats (or wolves) comfortable has become their chief end. They hope wolves will eventually become sheep and grow their numbers. Shepherds who turn a blind eye to wolves in order to keep the "peace" and bow to the idol of growth and reputation will be called to the carpet when they stand before God. Many will say they are biblical, but in all practicality they do not strive for the glory of God in obedience and trusting His sovereignty.

Lisa's story is not an anomaly. It's a sad reality that wolves have been allowed to devour the flock, and sheep have to fend for themselves, because there were no shepherds at watch.


This is just a snippet of Washer's famous sermon "10 Indictments to the Modern Church" which are:
  1. Practical denial of the Sufficiency of Scripture
  2. Ignorance of God
  3. A Failure to address Man’s Malady (sin)
  4. Ignorance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  5. Ignorance of the Doctrine of Regeneration
  6. Unbiblical Gospel Invitation
  7. Ignorance regarding the Nature of the Church
  8. Lack of Loving and Compassionate Church Discipline
  9. Silence on Separation. Void on teaching Holiness.
  10. Psychology and Sociology have replaced Scripture with regard to Families