Smelling Like Sheep

Ezekiel 34: God’s Message came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel.  Yes, prophesy!  Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths!  Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed the sheep?  You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep.  You don’t build up the weak ones, you don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost.  You bully and badger them.  And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd – scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes.  Scattered – my SHEEP! – exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills.  My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them."

I’ve heard plenty of "Elders are worthy of double honor" sermons in my time.  But it’s rare that I hear anyone preaching like Ezekiel preached to the shepherds of Israel.  I wonder if that’s because the Elders hold the purse-strings of today’s preachers.  Everybody knows that you’re not supposed to bite the hand that feeds you!

I hear a lot of people wringing their hands and worrying about the decline in American churches and the blame always goes back on the society, or pluralism, or post modernity, or MTV.  I wonder if some of the blame doesn’t lie squarely on the shoulders of our leadership.  We’re so concerned with structures and holding the party line, that sheep sneak out from under our noses only to be eaten by wolves.

When is someone going to stand up and poke today’s leaders in the chest and say, "Hey!  Wake up!  You’re focused on the wrong things!  People are DYING!!!!  People are STARVING!!!  And all you can worry about is whether you met budget this week?  Give me a break!  Get out there and find some sheep!"

Not only that, I think there’s another message: Stop killing the other shepherds that are tending the sheep!  The machine of today’s churches seems to be eating up Godly men and women with the heart of a shepherd and replacing them with maintenance crews.  "Keep things running as usual and everything will be o.k.  No rocking the boat!"

I can’t help but think that the decline in the church machine is God’s message: "Watch out!  I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back.  They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep.  No more shepherds who just feed themselves.  I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed.  They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer!" 

These sheep are leaving the "church" to find the Church.  They’re leaving the institution to find their faith.  And they’re leaving the "shepherds" to find the Shepherd.  Someone needs to write THAT book.  Interview those that have left the machine behind and have found their faith.  Tell their stories.  And then mail it to every church leader who is desperately trying to figure out why the boat is leaking!

Maybe that’s my next project. 

(I’ve been told I should pursue a career in writing.) 

 

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~ by Chris Green on November 12, 2005.

3 Responses to “Smelling Like Sheep”

  1. I would by the book. I might even be a contributor….you know one of those smelly, runaway sheep.

  2. Amen, friend.

  3. Amen, again. I appreciate your writing, and I’m pretty stinky myself!! JZ

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