“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 2:31
Just walk away
Just say goodbye
Don’t turn around now you may see me cry
I mustn’t fall apart
Or show my broken heart…
~ Just Walk Away, Celine Dion
Sheep – Christians – are being scattered everywhere in our times. It doesn’t matter the stripe or label of church calling itself by the name “Christian.” The steps and front walk of many of these places are covered with the invisible footprints and tears of those departing, never to come back.
It doesn’t matter whether the “pastor” or “shepherd” of the flock wears cargo shorts and a Sponge Bob t-shirt or elaborate vestments with gold thread. The effect is the same. It doesn’t matter whether the musicians perform rap, funk and groove, Getty songs or sacred works by Bach and Palestrina. Too many are heading for the exits.
The sheep are being scattered any number of ways. Whether it’s a superfluity of gaggatory self-help sermons (what is the point?), political rants of one kind or another, blatant apostasy, legalism of one brand or another, pride-filled intellectualism or doctrinal strip-tease (Hey, get a load of this, baby, look how much of so and so I can quote from memory!), or, underlying all of the above, a total absence of Christian love and concern. In any event, the sheep are getting scattered to the four winds.
No church could possibly be perfect. That would end the moment we walk in. But, I suppose it isn’t too much to ask that people actually care about one another, not too unreasonable to think that a stranger in the midst should be embraced rather than shunned for any meaningful interaction. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that someone staunch the bleeding on a fellow sheep when it’s been made apparent. Normally, shepherds would be concerned at the sight of an injury, or at least would assign an assistant to cleanse the wound and patch it up. Normally.
The exodus. Scattered, sad sheep headed down the drive without an earthly shepherd to visit a hospital bed, to stop by a home where there is clearly suffering or spiritual crisis. Traveling to a symposium or conference? Not a problem for these faux shepherds. Traveling anywhere that asks for their vast knowledge? Not too much. Traveling to a troubled household where there is pain? No. I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve lived it. Scatterers. They don’t care.
These days, the comfort comes to the scattered sheep where they can huddle together for warmth and encouragement The Scatterer Shepherds make themselves irrelevant. Needs get met in other ways. They have to be. Broken sheep to broken sheep. That’s where most of it takes place. Most Scatterers don’t even notice the departing. They are on to their next project. Doubling down in their spiritual malpractice–complacent, prideful and wicked, every one of them.
Woe is a strong word. In the original language, it was meant to be a curse. Woe to those who scatter the sheep of my flock, says the Lord. That’s how seriously God takes the scatterers.
This post is to remember the scattered sheep. The ones who once were hopeful that they had found a real shepherd, only to be disappointed. Again. The ones who limp away in the night, and nobody cares or even notices they are gone.
Don’t look back.
There was nothing there to keep you,
No love to call you back.
Not a single person, not a single sad heart
will notice you are gone.
Don’t even bother to cry.
They are not worth a single tear.
Walk away. Just walk away.