Chase the Strays

wildebeest-322088_1920I love watching just about any documentary or educational program on wildlife. When perusing channels I rarely pass by something produced by National Geographic. One of my favorite specials is on the African lions. Let me set the scene for you.

It’s the classic African Serengeti landscape. Heat waves rise from the earth, distorting the camera’s view. Multiple, colorful birds crisscross in the sky and the camera zooms in on a herd of wildebeest. Hundreds of them can be seen grunting and grazing their way across the plains in search of a waterhole. The commentator fills you in on the typical habits of the wildebeest even though you know the show is about lions – hungry lions.

The camera then pans and you see several ears poking just above the sun bleached grass. Several female lions watch the nervous herd pass by. Their tails flick back and forth at pesky flies, yet their eyes remain fixed, watching the herd.

Then, the inevitable happens. One of the wildebeests, for whatever reason, (sickness, injury, stupidity, etc.) separates from the herd. Its head down, feeding on grass, not paying attention to the growing gap between it and the safety of the herd, the poor wildebeest strays.

I always thought the lions should pounce at that moment, but they never do. They know what they are doing. One or two lions will then get between the wildebeest and the herd, scaring the lone wildebeest who bolts and runs. Often, it runs further and further from the safety of its friends. It’s then that all protection is gone and the herd’s straying friend is alone. Lions spring from the grass as if out of nowhere. The trap was laid and within seconds the circle of life continues for some and ends for others.

That picture of nature is often how I have viewed the church and all of us that make up her body. Jesus even refers to us at times as sheep and Satan as a roaring lion seeking to devour us. Today in the church, as a pastor, I so often see people for various reasons – priorities, sin, jobs, activities – begin to stray from the herd. They become busy and distracted with life, and before they know it, they are separated from the herd.

The third essential of a healthy life of being a disciple is to chase the strays. We as Christians have a responsibility not only to remain connected to the herd ourselves, but also to go after others who have strayed. Too often, even pastors do not know where the sheep from their flock have gone. I believe we owe it to each other to chase after someone when we see a gap grow. We know lions lie out in the grass and yet even with God as our shepherd, and the flock for protection, we become a spiritual meal for the evil one.

I wonder how many of you are pressing to the edge of this guardrail? Are you connected to the body of Christ or do you teeter on some dangerous edge, allowing a gap to grow? Here are some ways to put up and maintain this guardrail:

  1. Join a small group and make it part of your spiritual life priority.
  2. Evaluate your calendar and challenge the events or activities you do that keep you away from the Body of Christ.
  3. Allow people to speak into your life to help warn you of separation.
  4. GO TO CHURCH.

 

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