There is a repetitive theme running through my news feeds. It’s quiet among the blaring noise of social media, a lot the way wolves sneak in among loud, stupid sheep, and devour them. This topic has several faces that need to be exposed to the light, paused over, and reckoned with.
I’m extracting just one aspect of these whispers from the babble and placing them here, in front of us all today to reckon with. My prayer is that, through these words, the noise would cease and our frenetic, short attention spans that usually read the post about stolen school girls in Africa sandwiched between the status about bad hair days and Pinterest party ideas, will actually be able to quiet ourselves long enough to hear of these wolves among us and move into the safety of the shepherd before any more of our young are devoured right before our eyes.
So if you’re reading this post sandwiched in your news feed, or in the middle of a string of emails from all over this planet, put it aside. Keep it for later. Because what I have to say today might make a life or death difference in the life of a child – maybe even yours.
You see, I’ve spent years vacillating between wondering what is wrong with most Christians I know, and what is wrong with me. Before I ever even regained most of my memories, I could not fathom entrusting the one most precious gift ever given to me by God to a stranger.
Maybe it was because my own mother left us with nannies she called from the yellow pages…for weeks at a time. But I have never been able to comprehend people handing their babies over to complete strangers every Sunday in church. Why they would walk away from screaming toddlers they hastily placed in the hands of a semi-stranger so they could enjoy man’s thoughts on the Word of God? And why hasn’t that man acted like Jesus, and just welcomed the children in anyways? I just didn’t get it. I thought people were crazy. And then I was repeatedly told I was the one who was crazy. Many times.
And now that I’ve been a parent for over 2 decades, I have decided it is neither.
Instead, I’m just going to call it what it is: sheep brains.
Christians are way too trusting. Because they are Christians. There’s a reason Jesus called us sheep, people. And it is not for our stunning intelligence. I’m so sorry, but if you don’t believe me, check out this quote from this epic blog post by Boz T. on the epidemic of child abuse in the Church. And yes, I did say epidemic:
“‘I consider church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians. They tend to be better folks all around and seem to want to believe in the good that exists in people. I think they want to believe in people. Because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.’ – convicted child molester”
Boz himself goes on to say this:
“Faith communities usually foster a very trusting environment. For a variety of reasons, we naively tend to automatically lower our guard when we are amongst professing Christians. This same naiveté is why offenders flock to the faith community. There is no other environment that I know of where children can be accessed so quickly by so many with little or no concern from others.”
Boz, talking about his own foolish decisions to place his oldest child, an infant at the time, into the hands of multiple nursery workers without a second thought while hunting for a new church to settle in says,
“Could you imagine walking into Wal-Mart and handing your child into the care of the greeter while you shopped? Though I don’t think I would be so careless today, the reason I did not think much about it then was that I immediately trusted these strangers because they were part of a church “family”. Christians all too often mistake familiarity for trust.”
I don’t intend to re-write Boz’s article. Please take the time to read it for yourself though. What I do want to emphasize is that last sentence: “Christians all too often mistake familiarity for trust.” Pause here and think about your own social sphere, and the people your kids spend time with outside of your supervision. How well do you really know them?
I had this talk with my own kids just yesterday. My girls wanted to know why I don’t trust their friends’ parents enough to let them go over to their house without me. I explained to them that they are my MOST precious gift given to me on this earth from God. I then proceeded to dismantle their innocence by explaining just how easy it is for cunning wolves to dine on ignorant sheep. I let them know that just because people seem really nice and friendly, and because they talk about God, and because we hang out with them, does not make them safe.
I shared with them about how my own parents, who are very evil and like to hurt children, go to church and volunteer teaching Sunday school to 3 year olds every week. I asked my girls if they thought the 3 year olds were safe. No…. I asked them what they thought about why the parents would trust them with their little 3 year olds every single Sunday. They were stumped. So I explained to them that people who seem nice and go to church can easily trick Christians because most Christians think everyone at church is safe. I went on to tell them how nice my parents act every Sunday, because they are tricking church people on purpose.
They were quiet. So I asked another question: How well do you think we really know __________? Stumped again. So I talked about how sweet their friend’s parents seem, and how they talk about God and churchy stuff. But then I pointed out that we have only really spent a little bit of time with them, even though we have known them for a few years. I told them that I didn’t even know where the parents had grown up, or how they had gotten saved. I don’t know who their family members are. And so on.
Because, you see, working together with this lack of discernment, is the trend we have moved towards in our society as a whole, of being SO busy that we never really, really take the time to actually know other people.
We tend to build relationships based on proximity, and spend time talking about the thing that brought us into that same space (gymnastics, soccer, church) without ever going BACK in time and taking the time to hear someone’s history. What kind of family they grew up in, and how they have wrestled with God to resolve their hurts (everyone hurts), and where they have landed in that wrestling match.
We usually don’t ask people, “What has God been showing you in His Word lately?” Nope. Instead, we talk about the weather, the team’s travel schedule, planning the next youth or church event…..but rarely the REAL stuff.
Please, today….do this. Ask yourself how well you really know the people in your life who come in contact with your children. And after that, determine to do one thing: PRAY. (Did you see that coming?)
Because here’s the thing. Children in church – whose parents are Christians, should be the least abused, least targeted group of children, NOT among those who are most targeted! Because as God’s children, we have the Holy Spirit who was given to us for good reasons! And one of those reasons is that we be able to rightly discern the truth. Even the truth about people.
And hear this – You are NOT obligated to trust people at church just because you are a Christian. In fact, just the opposite. God is grieved at His people’s unwillingness and inability to see Him and hear His voice.
We are his sheep, and His sheep know His voice. (John 10) Unfortunately, sheep are completely stupid on their own. And that is exactly how we are living when it comes to entrusting our children into the hands of other Christians without a thought of consulting with our shepherd as to their safety.
And He is grieved by this.
He never said that we should blindly trust. Contrary to popular belief, that is NOT one of the commands given to us.
Instead, take some time as soon as possible and ask Him who you should entrust your most precious gifts to on this broken, fallen planet. He’s waiting for you to ask.
And remember, wherever you find social pressure to conform to something you are uncomfortable with, that pressure is usually born out of someone else’s discomfort and their need to soothe their conscience by pressuring others to enter into that same poor decision. In other words, stupid sheep love company.
Don’t be afraid to stand against the tide and protect your children. It is exactly what God expects of you. Take the time to ask Him, and hear from Him. And take the time to really know people. You won’t regret it. I promise.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on why wolves love tasty sheep…..maybe.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)
“…and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:4-5)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)
“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:24-25)