A Terrible Parable
Once upon a time (not all that long ago), in a land far, far closer than many of us might think, there lived a family of forlorn sheep. There was the mommy and daddy sheep, along with their several precious little lambs. They all lived together out in the desert of sin. Life was hard out there. Times were tough. Good, nutritious, and spiritually fulfilling food was almost impossible to find as they sifted through the local religious landscape; but even then it was always avoided (even if they did manage to locate some) simply because they didn’t recognize it for what it truly was, and therefore feared partaking of it in their ignorance. The pure waters of life were never sought or consumed by our little sheep family either, for the same reason. Instead, they would occasionally drink from the poisoned, polluted, and powerless to truly refresh waters of man-made denominationalism, while their deadly and desperate drought of depression continued to deepen.
And then, there were the wolves… the always sly, sneaky, sinister and savage wolves, against who’s ripping teeth and ferocious fury our little sheep family was absolutely defenseless and pitifully powerless! Those savage wolves who struck at will, any time day or night, leaving behind nothing but the bloody carcasses and ripped-up remains of those they caught, killed, and feasted on; and the broken, maimed, and scarred existences, of those they tragically toyed with and slowly devoured from day to day, one debilitating bite at a time. Yes, life in the desert of sin was a relentlessly desperate, difficult, and ultimately deadly experience.
But then one day, off in the distance, the two adult sheep detected a strange sight. And so, they sheepishly decided to investigate. As they and their little family slowly drew closer, they discovered it was a flock of well-fed, well-watered, and deliriously happy, fulfilled and contented sheep. And why not? At their head, leading the way up the straight and narrow path and on to where there were even greener pastures and incredibly tranquil pools of quiet, sweet, still and fulfilling water, was their great and all-powerful Shepherd. His rod and His staff were always perfectly at the ready; ready to defend, protect, and rescue even the most helpless of His defenseless sheep. In fact, even as our little family of beleaguered, beaten down, and malnourished sheep approached the bigger flock of joyous and well-fed sheep families traveling together under the great Shepherd’s care and guidance, a huge, powerful, and terrifying pack of adult wolves all of the sudden exploded from out of the tall, lush green grass on the other side of the path where they had been hiding, just hoping the flock would come close enough for them to scatter, kill, and consume. But the entire flock just faithfully and confidently closed ranks and stood their ground, obeying the all-authoritative commands of the great Shepherd, as He sprang into action and soundly defeated and dispersed all the wolves without a single sheep life lost!
It was at that one, incredibly insightful and impressive instant, that the parents of our little sheep family realized that their becoming a part of this flock, under the guidance and protection of their invincibly great Shepherd, was the one and only way to ensure that their little family would live a long and happy, full and productive, truly fulfilled life. And so they came closer, learned what it would take to become His sheep, and were welcomed and washed by the Shepherd and immersed into His flock. And all was very, very well – at least for a little while…
But one day, as the little flock of families was being led by their great Shepherd up the straight and narrow path to higher ground and greener pastures, one of the parents of our original little sheep family – apparently having so soon forgotten how terribly powerful and tenacious the wolves in the valley of sin were without the protection afforded in the faithful flock by their great and fearless Shepherd – decided to stray a little bit from the old path, believing they had perhaps seen a few spears of still greener grass off in the distance, on the downhill side of the straight and narrow, only a slight bit closer to the valley of sin.
Taking their eyes off of the Chief Shepherd and taking for granted His invincible protection momentarily, they subtly began to disregard some of His perfectly heavenly provisions and instructions, and slowly but surely started breaking ranks and moving out and away from the flock of God, striking out on their own in a different direction and taking their little family with them in search of their ever-elusive greener grass and pasture fantasies…
Now, sure the Great Shepherd called out to them time and time again, pleading for them to return to Him and His flock… And sure, many members of His flock sought to call them back to the protection of His presence and His rod and staff as well… But all to no avail… They folded their fuzzy little ears over and closed them; increasingly snubbed their noses at their loving and pleading brethren; and foolishly and fatally turned their backs on His flock and departed. All of this, while the voracious and well-hidden-in-the-grass-where-they-were-headed wolves, gleefully grinned and drooled, in total anticipation of the taste of the tender lamb chops and sheep steaks that were to soon be delivered right to their grass-enshrouded den door.
Later on towards evening, as the sun set and the Shepherd’s faithful and loving flock once again happened to pass by the place where the small sheep family had so tragically chosen to depart the divine protection of the invincible Shepherd and His mighty rod and staff, off in the distance, downhill towards a now newly and needlessly stained crimson patch of not so green anymore grass, they noticed the small, bloody, and tragically shredded and ripped apart remains, of the once vital and beloved family that had so recently fled the flock… and a pack of usually and typically terrifying, but now full, and fully contented and satisfied for the moment wolves, serenely laying around and licking their blood-stained lips and paws.
“He who has ears, let him hear what the parable says to the sheep in wolves country.”