Whereas other cultures applied to place young children up chimneys, the norm for persons of my age and background was to be place to operate component-time as sheepdogs, in the absence of a suitably certified collie. My father was hopeless at education his animals, and so he had 4 young children rather who, if not as intelligent as collies, had been absolutely far more responsive to his shouted commands.
As if this degradation was not sufficient, we would discover ourselves subjected to ‘One Man and His Dog’ on tv of an evening. I suspect my father hoped that we may well choose up a handful of pointers if we watched sufficient episodes. He would comment on the shepherds’ manage of their dogs, and of the responsiveness and obedience of stated dogs. I, on the other hand, was often far more interested in watching the sheep.
They are not the smartest of creatures, and they have a flair for the unpredictable. Nonetheless, I like their placid faces, and nevertheless preserve that the ear of a sheep is the cutest ear of any mammal you are probably to meet. And, getting worked with so quite a few of them, so to speak, I had gained an insight into some of their techniques.
The outrun and the shedding was all excellent entertainment, but the moment I discovered most anxiousness-inducing was the penning. Holding the gate open with his left hand, the shepherd would attempt corralling the flock in, frequently waving a crook with his correct. You would just about be on the point of breathing a sigh of relief when – disaster – a single woolly maverick would make a bid for freedom. From time to time, this would be the finish of someone’s dream. Frankly, if your only dream was to win ‘One Man and His Dog’, you likely deserved a reality verify, but every single to his personal.
We also, like sheep, have gone astray. The Lord views us as his flock and it is the operate of his church to support bring them safely into the fold. It is towards this finish that the operate of evangelism and outreach tends – get them on the outrun, win them for the bring about. But I am swiftly coming to the conclusion that our eye must be on the ones we are just about to usher into the pen. There is a actual flight threat there, and we all know why.
Satan is an awful lot far more interested in persons who are responding to the Lord than he is to the ones who are lukewarm, or even cold. They are nowhere close to God’s pen they are completely exposed to the ravening wolf, and effortlessly picked off to be devoured.
Certainly, then, a master strategist like the devil is going to turn his interest far more completely on the ones who are just about – but not pretty – secure. They are teetering on the brink of salvation, but the gate to the sheep-fold is not but safely closed behind them. One thing may well but catch them, out the corner of their eye, and they could effortlessly turn and rush towards it.
I have been that sheep, so I know it is correct. It is whilst you are a churchgoer, a Bible reader, an utterer of prayer . . . but not but secure in his grasp, that you are most vulnerable to the wiles of Satan. He will tempt you with the globe in all its tinsel show and he will contrast this with the dull rigidity of a life lived for God. Adept as he is at warping truth, he will remind you of all the issues you want to do, all the issues you have a correct to do – and he will inform you that God can wait.
And I know other folks, now, who are in that position. The pen is open prior to them, they are just about inside the circle of that gate . . . but Satan is up to his tricks once again. He shows them the globe, yes, but he does some thing else even far more insidious. Coming correct up to them, he whispers into their ears: ‘Look. Appear at the ones who are currently in. Apart from the truth that they are trapped, and cannot go anyplace, how distinct are they to you?’
He tells these who come to church, who hear the Word, and who are starting to appreciate the Lord, that they can have all of that – but why hang about with a persons who are no improved than these who reside in the globe? How are you, he asks them, meant to have fellowship with ‘these people’ and he lists them. I know he speaks to adherents, and I know he plays on the truth that they have observed undesirable behaviour from Christians. The church has in it liars, the self-righteous, the unjust, the vain . . . persons, in truth, in all their brokenness.
Satan says to them, ‘why must you sit down in fellowship with these hypocrites?’ And they appear once again at the particular person in the pew subsequent to them, and they realise that he is correct. That upstanding Christian is a fibber. Or self-righteous, or egotistical.
Jesus, on the other hand, says to them, ‘take your location amongst these persons – they are just like you and but I have claimed them all as my own’. He loved us whilst we had been nevertheless defiled by original sin
We want to be mindful of his portion, to have care of a single a further. That consists of in particular these on the brink of life. Satan is watching them, hovering like a bird of prey more than defenceless lambs. I have to examine my personal life, as a result, and guard against getting the stumbling-block that excuses them from coming in.
It provides an added impetus to our witness when we look at that these hunting most closely at our instance are nearer than we feel. They are not necessarily the unbelievers on the outrun, but the just about-theres inside the shelter of his gate.