Protecting Lambs from Wolves
What if somebody comes along from the outside and at first he sounds pretty nice and seems knowledgeable about the Bible. But then he wants to take control. He has fifty of the best Bible studies on CD that will teach you everything you need to know. Do you understand what I mean? What do you do in that type of situation when a person like that comes into your group and is more or less self-promoting?
Easy. If you’re a Family, it won’t be a problem. If you’re an organization, then you’re in trouble. In a family, that person can come to your dinner table with ten or twenty others and you’re all sharing life and love together. If that person begins to strut a little and talks too much, then you can quietly pull him aside. You say, “Shhhh…take your time here. You may or may not be right in what you’re saying. I’m not saying I’m always right and I’m sure you don’t feel you’re always right. I’m just asking you to please take your time. Let’s just go for a walk and pray about it. Let’s think about it.”
In a Family, there’s virtually no chance that someone could take over. But if you’re inviting them to an organization and a meeting, it’ll be trouble. If it’s some kind of open, “free” meeting where anybody can say anything they want to, then a person can come and sound good at first. But in that setting they easily start to take over. If you’re inviting them to an organization and a meeting scheduled on the calendar, then you will be very much subject to that.
However, if the way you define your life together is as a Family and every day you’re together, walking and talking, then you’ll know what to do. Your brothers and sisters who are loyal, loving and relationally bound will begin to see something that’s a little bit off, and you can talk about it.
Just because you have meetings that are more liberal and freer doesn’t mean you have a devoted family. It still is only a machine and a structure that happens to have meetings where everybody takes turns talking more. That is actually more dangerous. I would rather sit in a pew listening to a good pastor teaching every Sunday than sit in a meeting of an attendance-based organization where everybody gets a chance to talk and people can come in and destroy lambs. In that situation, wolves have the freedom to come in and do harm.
That’s one of the reasons that the denominations exist as they do. One reason is because the lambs are basically lazy, and they want to have a king like the other nations. But the other reason the denominations and hierarchies were born is actually a good one. It’s because there are too many wolves out there. The idea is that if you can get somebody you trust standing in a pulpit with good solid Bible teaching then they dominate the whole meeting and it’s fairly safe. You can bring your children and family and invite your neighbors because you won’t hear a bunch of heresy and weird teaching. The problem though with that is that 10 years later hardly anybody has grown because they’re still babies watching a movie on the screen instead of being a Kingdom of Priests the way God said it was supposed to be.
What do you do in your family if someone that you don’t know walks in and starts to say something inappropriate to your children? You pull that person aside and say, “Please don’t talk that way around my children. I’m sure you mean well, but something about what you’re saying doesn’t feel right and seems unhealthy to us. You’re welcome to stay, but please don’t go that direction with what you’re saying. If you happen to be right, that’s great. But for now let’s build a relationship.”
Where we live, we don’t ever invite people to services, because we don’t have any services. What we have are times when the whole family of God is together or when smaller parts of the family are together. It’s like having a room full of children and they all want to share things about their day and what they’re learning. You want them to do that.
What if a total stranger came in and started to squish that? It would break your heart because you know these children and you love them! They’re your children and you care about them. You are listening to everything between the lines when they were talking. Their eyes are lighting up and if some strange neighbor walked in and started to squish them, you’d want to pull that neighbor aside and say, “Please, not now. Take your time. Get to know us and then we’ll see how it goes.”
If that person is willing, he will listen and take his time. He’ll grow to become an uncle or a brother or another father. Then he’ll have more and more ability to give from what’s inside of him. That only works though, if you’re a family and sharing life every day. Otherwise, people can come in from the outside and start pontificating over God’s children. If someone starts doing that and you’re attendance-based then you have to take some sort of action. You have to ex-communicate them or throw them out because they’re wolves. Or you have to ignore something that’s going to hurt God’s children. So you’re stuck.
But if you’re a family, then you can actually win his heart. The person coming in has probably himself been a victim of something. He is probably reacting to something that happened in his life or over-reacting to some hurt that’s been done to him. If you can ask him to take the time to be part of your life on an ongoing basis, you might actually win his heart. It doesn’t have to be that you have to give him the left foot of fellowship and kick him out.
It’s not that we try to police everything in order to control the good and the bad. There are a lot of people who aren’t so good, but they could become good if they had a chance. Think about Saul getting knocked off his horse and becoming the writer of two-thirds of the New Testament. First Ananias and then Barnabas were the ones who had to walk alongside of this strange, wild-eyed maniac named Saul and help him learn the ways of God.
So we’re not afraid of wild-eyed maniacs showing up in a family, because maybe we can help them. We can see if they can be redeemed from whatever thing they are caught up in. But if they attend your machine on Sunday and start saying and doing hurtful things, you have to decide whether to throw them out, or whether you want everybody to get hurt by them. If you’re attendance-based you don’t have the option of trying to win them because you’re not going to win anybody during a meeting! You can only win them “as you rise up, as you sit down, and as you walk along the way.”
So, that’s yet another reason in favor of being involved every day in each other’s life. You will have nothing to fear from the wolves because you’re a circle of believers that are so intimately tied together that those things ricochet off or those people are brought safely in.
The human body is like that, right? What do the white blood cells do? They circle around the strange, foreign matter. They circle around the germ and digest it or they have a way to spit it out or vomit it out. The white blood cells either expulse it, or they digest it, conquer it and bring it into the body as part of itself—even though it was once foreign matter.
An organism living daily together can handle those problems, whereas an organization is stuck. You either have to be legalistic and throw people out or you have to ignore the problem and let people get hurt. If you can’t throw them out, then they are going to do whatever they want to do. Then you have splits.
In the church that I am a part of, we have never had a split in twenty years. Why is that? It’s because we’re an organism rather than an organization. We either digest all the issues and bring them into life and make them part of life (sometimes in spite of themselves) or perhaps they have to be expulsed just like the white blood cells do in the human body. Biblically, expulsion does happen sometimes. It says in 1 Corinthians 5 that some discipline had to be brought to someone to see if he wanted to be part of the body or wanted to be expulsed. The people in Corinth were willing to pull back and to not eat with the man. That brought them all into a place of honor again because they were willing to expulse.
They were a family and what happened with the Corinthians is a beautiful example of that. Paul said, “Rush back to him because you’re killing him. You’ve got to hurry back to him” (2Cor. 2). Why was that “killing him” to not be able to eat with them and to not be in their midst? It’s because they were so close to each other, that to pull away broke the man’s heart. If you’re not close, then you don’t even have the ability to break somebody’s heart.
If you’re only attending something and you say, “You can’t come around anymore,” they say, “Ok, well I’ll just go somewhere else then.” Their heart isn’t broken. They don’t care. They might be mad or have their feelings hurt, but their heart isn’t broken. But if you’re a family together every day and suddenly you won’t eat with that person anymore—that’s a tool that God can use to break their heart and bring them to repentance. It only works if they hate and miss not being intimately part of your life. You already were so close together that pulling back from them meant something to them.
So that’s yet another reason for daily, intimate life. It is God’s way of being white blood cells to solve problems.