Good News for Scared Sheep

September 28, 2003

GOOD NEWS FOR SCARED SHEEP by Ray Pritchard The e-mail came with this title: “I’m glad people pray for you.” A friend was writing to comment on a story I posted on my daily weblog (located on the “Pastor Ray” page of the Calvary website: about being shot with a pellet gun while on a bike ride in Oak Park. The details don’t really matter because I wasn’t hurt and actually didn’t think much about it. The e-mail concluded: “The world is a scary place. Although we should not be consumed with fear, we should all be aware that we should not get ‘comfortable’ in our settings, just like we shouldn’t get ‘comfortable’ in our Christianity. The enemy, whether criminal or Satan himself, will strike if given the opportunity.” Those are wise words that need to be taken to heart. Several weeks ago someone asked me when I was going to preach about how to respond to the deep-seated anxiety in American life since 9/11. Without question, the national blood pressure has gone up in the last 24 months. We see signs of it in the increasing polarization of American society. We are an angry people, deeply upset with each other, and almost everyone seems to have a short fuse. People lose their temper over trivial things, we have less patience with each other, we’re quicker to raise our voices, and gentleness seems to be in short supply. At this point the words of Jesus come into sharp focus: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NLT). Consider that image: sheep among wolves. If this is a football game, put your money on the wolves. When sheep and wolves square off, the wolves win every time. But that is what we are–sheep let loose to run among the wolves. Certainly this means that we live in a dangerous world, and if left to ourselves, we’re bound to get in trouble. To be “wary as snakes” means to be cautious, wise, prudent, and careful in what we do, where we go, and what we say. To be “harmless as doves” means to live with pure motives so that we are innocent of wrongdoing. The key is finding balance between fear and foolishness. Somewhere in between is the path of wisdom. Surely we all need to be praying for each other by name and fervently in these days. And we should pray for courage when attacked and for peace under pressure and for joy in the midst of trouble. A fearful Christian is a contradiction in terms. We may be sheep let loose among the wolves, but we have a Great Shepherd who has promised to lead us to green pastures and still waters. Let not your heart be troubled. Our Lord watches over his own. The wolves are no match for him.

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