Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wolves Among the Flock

Men are either wolves or sheepdogs. We are not by nature sheep. We may follow a shepherd but we are wired up to confront danger and stand between our flock, our family and our community and that which would bring them harm. We all choose which we will be. Our church needs sheepdogs for there is evil among us. I was sickened today to read that a volunteer Adventist girl's basketball coach was arrested for filming the girls changing clothes in his office. He's been tossed out of Puget Sound Adventist Academy on his ear and arrested. The good thing is that he was no longer employed by the school and only served as a volunteer. The good thing is that the sheepdogs of the church rose up and put an end to his activities. The bad thing is that once again men in the church find themselves damned by gender and it's not fair. In fact, it's detrimental to our families and our children and young people.

Already, the church has had to resort to background checks and paperwork galore for everyone in the church who volunteers to do anything at all. It's little wonder that many church members hang back from taking on jobs with the church. It's a little scary to risk it, especially if you are a guy. I gave up worrying about it years ago. At first, I figured if God is in charge, I need not fear being falsely accused of some misdeed, especially if I did nothing wrong. Later I discovered that you might well be falsely accused, especially if you do right or speak out about wrongs being done by those who consider themselves superior to the rest of us.

Doing the right thing doesn't mean you won't lose your job or have to move somewhere far away to continue your career. The secret to doing your duty as a male church member is to always do the right thing and trust God to take care of you whatever happens. I've seen two wonderful pastors hurt though they were both doing what was right and doing it with vigor and energy. One was a conference president and a man I respected and admired. The other one served as the pastor of a college church and was a brilliant author and theologian. The conference president shared a plane ride with a woman on her way to New England for cancer treatments. She was frightened and he happened to be going the same way and her family didn't want her to travel alone. His enemies accused him of having an affair and made such a stink they forced him out. Years later, the same bunch set up our local pastor and accused him of sexual impropriety. Ironically, they were opposed to his emphasis on the idea of righteousness by faith. Somehow they decided that subterfuge, lying and character assassination were okay so long as they were attacking someone who wasn't doing what you were certain God wanted Him to do (which was usually what they wanted him to do) .

Ron Halvorsen Sr. was pastor of my church in Keene, Texas. Our head deacon approached him a couple of weeks after he preached his first sermon and told him a committee (The Laymen Actively Concerned) had been organized to get rid of him. Pastor Ron's response was a priceless and a courageously male one.

"Whew," he said wiping his brow. "I was worried there. Usually they have that committee organized by Sabbath afternoon after my first sermon!"  The next week he stood up in front of 1000 church members and said, "I understand that in this church we have some laymen who are actively concerned."

The congregation roared with laughter and the "committee" and the wolves who were its members were effectively defanged and had no further power. Actually, the church rallied behind Pastor Ron and we experienced a burst of church unity like no one had seen in decades. It was breath-taking and more than a little discouraging to our church's figurative graybeards in that it left them without the power of whispering behind back.

The greatest want of the church is, in point of fact, the want of men; men who will not be bought or sold; men who are as true as the needle to the pole. Sister White warned Adventist men that courage would be needed in these last days. We are the defenders of the church and our families and loved ones. We are sheepdogs. We must be vigilant, for the devil our adversary walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

It's time we men have to stand shoulder to shoulder to defend the flock. We need not fear those who claim power for their own. We need not fear the world. We serve Christ, not the head elder, not the Division president or the General Conference administration. One day soon the world will turn and wonder after the Beast. If we cannot stand now, when the stakes are small, what hope will there be that we will stand when the world turns against us.

God give us courage now to stand for the right.

© 2017 by Tom King

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