WHEN SHEEP BARK, part 1
Anyone who has spent time in the Christian blog world is bound to have come across the peculiarly "Christian" blog genus in which a disenchanted former beneficiary of a ministry seeks to set that ministry straight by exposing its minister's sins--all, ostensibly, under the guidance of Christian love.
Such men labor under the conviction that they, though sheep, are meant to shepherd. Or, more accurately, that they, though sheep, are appointed to sheep-dog their (usually) former shepherd into righteousness by snarling at him from the fringes of the fold.
Unfortunately for these men, Scripture knows no such office as sheep dog. Those who reside within the Body of Christ can only be sheep or shepherds. No middle position exists. Either a man is called to the work of a shepherd, set apart for leadership and accountable to God for his flock, or he is called to follow those whom God has granted such authority. If a sheep, his duty is to faithfully heed the leading of his shepherds; if a shepherd, his duty is to soberly guard the flock of Christ.
But such vigilante blog authors, unordained and without office, write as though the future of the Church of Jesus Christ were personally entrusted to them, turning into barking snarling sheep, ravagers of the flock through their attacks on its shepherds.
What is the Biblical status of such men? You won't hear them admit it....
More often than not you won't hear it from their shepherds either. Caught between the devil of ignoring his critic and the deep blue sea of answering a fool according to his folly, even the stalwart shepherd eventually lapses into silence. The shepherd has a flock to nourish and protect, his time for self-defense is limited by the needs of his flock. His foe, however, knows no such constraint. The barking sheep lives for his shepherd's attention. Every response heightens his self-esteem. Every word of opposition increases his self-righteousness.
But though shepherds may remain silent, the Bible clearly address the deeds of such men. The sin of patricide is the most despicable offense against the second table of the Law. To kill one's own father is, by direct implication, to kill The Father. Thus the Law places extremely high hedges around parental authority: the child who strikes his parents must die by stoning; the child who curses his parents must likewise die.
The sin committed by the barking sheep is that of spiritual patricide. The barking sheep lifts his hand against his father in the Lord; it should be readily apparent to all true Christians that the one who commits such wickedness will not be held guiltless by God. Just as the Law does not discriminate between striking to kill, striking to hurt and merely speaking against parents, so too all forms of spiritual patricide lead eventually to death.
Paul warns Timothy against dealing intemperately with older men. When they sin they should be appealed to as fathers rather than sharply rebuked. This is God's command to a young man holding ordained office for the treatment of older, unordained men guilty of sin. How much more imperative, then, that office-less young men refrain from attacking the Lord's anointed, those undershepherds of Christ ordained to govern Christ's Flock?
Faithful sheep of the flock need to understand this about such men: they are not sheep dogs. According to the Word of God the creature, neither sheep nor shepherd, lurking malevolently at the fringes of the sheepfold is a wolf.
For the sake of God's glory the faithful Christian must regard such men as the wolves they are while at the same time honoring faithful shepherds for standing firm and enduring the stripes of their service. The more persistently and alarmingly these creatures snarl the more determinedly we must heed the words of Scripture which call us to have nothing to do with such mockers:
Jude 18-23 (NASB95) In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.