Wolves demand performance from sheep, and this is one way they devour God’s people. Performance Christianity is the work of the devil, who burdens God’s beloved with the brutality of a slave master. Satan keeps his own children busy with a life of sin. He deceives Christians into endless activities, designed to hinder their spiritual growth.
How does a Christian grow to spiritual maturity? Like sheep in a safe place, feasting on long, dew-laden grass, the Christian must be in a place where the Bible is faithfully and systematically preached. By this preaching, the Christian is fed and protected by the Good Shepherd of the sheep, who is the Word of God (Jn 10; Jn 1:14).
False shepherds have the agenda of building a kingdom for themselves. They long for fame and fortune, and they expend their legions of followers to validate their legitimacy. With full agendas they occupy the people’s time and resources for one purpose: harnessing the time and resources of as many unwary people as possible.
False pastors use their pulpits to give pep talks to whip their flocks into a frenzy. They counsel the people with moralism, in order to position them in guilt. They invite their people to therapy-session small groups to stimulate confession of sins, remedied by new group rules, designed to put them further in bondage. Then, with a spirit of moral superiority, they control people in cult-leader-like fashion.
Missing from the ministry of these legalist dictators is Christ and grace. Sanctification is hard work for them, and they press the Scriptures into their man-made programs to save the church. When their programs succeed there are more goats than ever before! Like college football cheerleaders, they proclaim their excitement for the great things they are doing for God, as if God needed them at all. When their programs fail, they are quick to blame the stubborn sheep.
False shepherds, being blind guides, leave the pit they led the sheep into, and they move on to the next “exciting” place of ministry. Their man-made, man-centered programs are never to be blamed, however.
If the sheep have the Spirit of Christ, they will not listen to the kingdom crafter. They may wander for a season, but their quest is the safe pasture of the Good Shepherd. Irresistible grace is still at work. When they once again hear His voice from the pulpit, it makes them jump for joy like new lambs. They feast again in the spacious tablelands of a Bible preaching church.
Christians need the Word of God and the Spirit of God as the only programs of the church, “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” The true shepherd preaches and teaches the Bible to the exclusion of endless activities. The sheep learn to lie down and rest, even in the presence of Christian mega-activity centers near by.
The true shepherd brings them to still waters, that the sheep will not fear drowning in the torrent of programs and activities. The grace of God prevails; and the rested, healthy sheep produce spiritual fruit, in the manner of fleece production. Labor is seamless, effortless, as the life of God flows through them like sap moving from the vine to the branch. God is in the believer, willing and doing His good pleasure. He is the sole Agent of their sanctification.
Christian, come out of the merciless whore of Babylon, who entices you into giving your lifeblood for the cause of her kingdom. The false church is a grueling sweatshop of distracted managers conscripting you to get on board their ship to work, work, work…for their own glory. Come to the free waters and drink in the righteousness and goodness of God. Pray that God will lead you to a church that will let you rest, and eat the Word to your mind and heart’s content. Enter and remain in His rest, and He will take care of you and the rest that is required.
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 6, 2021