By Scott Linscott
I feel like a shepherd who has fallen into a deep hole. Every now and then, I hear one of my sheep pass by, up there somewhere, or I catch a glimpse of a shadow, but I have little idea how my flock is doing.Subtle differences but deadly.
Sheep like to huddle together closely. It’s how they find comfort and security. When wolves hunt sheep they like to spread them out and pick them off one by one.
Across the country, we shepherds are seeing evidence that our sheep are indeed getting “picked off” by wolves providing a selection of delicious, but poison, food. These wolves are gradually convincing our flocks to live in fear. They are luring them away from being ambassadors of Truth to becoming ambassadors of fear, paranoia and rage. They are convincing them to spend all their time in a new cause that truly appears worthy.
That’s what the wolves do. They dress up in sheep’s clothing and redirect the sheep away from the Shepherd into a different flock where they are eventually devoured or, at least, totally cut off.
In my case, I am a shepherd working under The Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The new life and salvation he brought gives peace, hope and eternal security, not fear and paranoia.
2 Timothy 1:7 (Young’s Literal Translation)
“for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;”
The wolves are subtly appealing to the good, caring values of the sheep, implanted by the Good Shepherd, to enlist them in a false war so that they lose sight of the real enemy. The sheeps’ time, effort, attention and resources are being pulled away from the mission of Christ to be invested in a battle with imaginary enemies.
Even some shepherds have abandoned “sound mind” and solid, biblical teaching to chase after shadows. They are spending their time convincing their flocks to focus on the “hidden, shadowed, covert, underground” activities of the enemy while his clear, overt actions go unchallenged.
More and more of the Good Shepherd’s sheep are gorging on the poison food believing it is the best food. They are ignoring even the most educated, expert sheep within their own flocks, their brothers and sisters. The experts bleat strong warnings and plead for sound minds but the wolves have convinced the sheep that even their formerly-trusted experts have been blinded. Sociologists are calling it “the death of expertise.” It stretches far beyond just the Christian ranks.
“Trust only us,” the wolves say, “Read what we provide, watch what we produce. We are sent by God. This is God’s will for you,” they say to the church. It is happening in politics, in medicine and other areas of daily life.
Meanwhile, I sit, calling up from my hole, praying that my sheep, the sheep that the Master Shepherd put in my care, might hear me.
“Live like Jesus,” I call. “Be his ambassadors. Trust in him. Don’t fear! Don’t hate! Stop fretting! Study his word. Seek his kingdom first…”
I feel like most of my words are echoing off the walls of this deep hole while my phone shows me another meme, another forward, and another venom-filled post coming from the sheep of Jesus who have been convinced that they are doing what he has called them to do.
“Damn wolves! Get away from my flock!” I yell and then sink down, my face in my hands, discouraged and distraught.
“God-damned wolves,” I mutter. I know the wolves are damned but what can I do from this hole? What can I do?
I pray. I pray hard. I pray nearly continuously. I pray that the sheep who are being lured away will see the wolves under their sheep’s clothing.
“If you hold to my teaching, … you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” is what the Shepherd told us.
I want my sheep to live in the freedom of Grace. Free from fear. Free from paranoia. Free from believing that our hope rests in man, in politics, in economies, in possessions or in relationships. If we hold to, focus on, grasp, digest, live by, and seek, Jesus’ teachings we will be set free.
Some are calling what the wolves are offering, “a new religion” because it is so very different than the Jesus of the Bible.
I love my sheep even though, in my head, I know they are not really mine. I know that they belong to God. I have only been given the privilege of shepherding them for this brief moment. But, in my heart, I love them as my own.
Literal shepherds have tools to smack the wolves and chase them off. They have ways to rope or hook their sheep to drag them back. I’m a figurative shepherd. The sheep in my flock can and do walk away whenever they want. That hurts my heart but the Master Shepherd made them that way. They are free to choose whatever path they want.
“Dear God, these sheep you have entrusted to me? I need to release them to you and trust that you will stay with them and bring them back, close to your side. I pray you will open their eyes to the subtle tricks of the wolves. I’ll keep doing what you have called me to in 2 Timothy 4:2. I will, ‘Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching’ whether distanced, locked-down or back to normal.”
I pray that life in my pandemic hole does not go on for years. I hope that God allows an effective vaccine soon. But, if he should wait, I’ll try to learn the lessons that the Apostle Paul gained in prison where he wrote, “I have learned to be content no matter my circumstance.”
More on the the strategies and methods of the wolves at https://religionnews.com/2020/08/17/qanon-the-alternative-religion-thats-coming-to-your-church/
WOW! You so eloquently express my thoughts and those of many others I am sure. Your sheep are blessed to have them as your shepherd. Hang in there and I will pray that you will soon be out of that pandemic hole. When I experienced one of if not the most difficult times of my life I said” I’m holding on to Jesus and he’s holding me up through this”. May God bless you as you continue to shepherd your/His flock.
Scott – Thanks for this piece. I grieve and I pray with you. And with you, I put my hope in the living One, the master Shepherd. There is life in him and nowhere else. His isn’t just the best food, He himself is the only real food.
As I read your piece, I was mindful of my brothers and sisters and both right and left, politically speaking. But your link to the news story at the end makes me suspect that perhaps you are personally dealing mostly with the effects of the counterfeit food being offered on the right. In my own milieu, which is both national and local, I get to see both “sides.” From the same news source you cited:
“Whether you are religious or secular, conservative or liberal, caring about politics too much — caring the wrong way — can contaminate your soul and poison your emotional and spiritual core. It can leave you high and dry on an island of anger and disillusionment.” https://religionnews.com/2018/10/19/politics-as-a-substitute-for-religion-will-inevitably-let-you-down/
As I said, I grieve and pray with you. May the Lord save his own. May he grant us grace and courage to serve Him and his people with strength and humility, and may you be powerfully released by Him from your CoViD hole. Amen.
Thanks, friend. Yes, mostly on the right. My friends on the left often feel unwelcome in the evangelical church. Thankfully, our body has both left and right and has, to this point, been spared the infighting that other pastors have reported. Our track this summer has been to remember that we are citizens of heaven and Ambassadors to the King. I wish I could say we have been 100% successful but the “contaminants” of the quote you shared are indeed evident in some.