17. Be On Guard
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
As children we are introduced to this story of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the ultimate deception in order to gain advantage. I decided to Google this passage today to see what appeared and to my horror I found a web page that listed the reasons why Christians ought to be so concerned about the wolves of the world. If you were to read the page literally you would to be afraid to even step out your front door!
But I wonder today who are the false prophets of our life, those who seek to upend us as opposed with the prophets that would poke us in the eye in order for us to wake up our selves?
For me false prophets have been in the form of tempting people that have urged me into places of compromise, apparently wanting the best for my life, but in the end only concerned with their gain. The viciousness of the wolf is an important characteristic to the story as we contrast it with the sheep. The sheep seem helpless, innocent and fluffy, the wolf on the other hand is presented as having one thing on their mind, dinner. Anyone who has seen a Wyle Coyote cartoon would resonate with this stereotype!
But how do we watch out? What are the checks? How do we know who is false in our midst? I think it raises an important topic during lent, identity. Do we really know who we are so that when the prophet comes we are able to gauge what their saying with our core values?
To poke us in the eye perhaps we need to consider are we sheep or wolves in sheep’s clothing? How do we present our selves as a people of God, seeking gain or seeking life in community with others?
Watching out for false prophets is not easy in modern society. We are constantly barraged with a range of messages all trying to get us to think in one direction. Our national government seeks to direct our thoughts to a conservative response to social issues, even considering that becoming bigots is ok! The wolves need to be exposed in our society and by this I don’t mean conviction of sin, but rather to name and become aware of the things that would compromise us and seek many voices and not just one.
Some journaling is in order today, perhaps a list of different voices in each of our lives, which ones really matter? Which ones don’t? Are there any on the list that have the pressure to compromise your self?