One of my favorite memes which went around my corner of the internet recently goes like this:
Silence is golden…. unless you have a toddler. In that case, silence is very, very suspicious.
Any parent of a typical toddler knows the truth in this bit of humor. If there’s a toddler awake somewhere in your house, and suddenly the house turns quiet, it’s time to go find out what sort of mischief might be going on!
This meme came up for discussion recently at my family table as I was talking through Proverbs 18:1 with my children:
All of my children can understand the simple truth of this Proverb. So often, when we are alone, temptation is there, and sin is not far away. This danger of being alone shows up in other places as well. My 8-year old daughter quickly reminded us of the Æsop’s fable about the wolf and the young goat (link) where a young goat gets into big trouble because he foolishly isolates himself from the herd. When the wolf shows up, things get interesting as the young goat struggles with the consequences of isolating himself from the group.
Now the metaphor of a herd or flock should be familiar to any churchgoer. I was immediately reminded of my own church body, and I thought about the importance for Christians to stay with the flock. Just as with the young goat in Æsop’s fable, there is danger when isolated from the protections which come from being part of the body of Christ.
My own family has been quite busy recently as the demands of my job as an Engineer have made the past 6-weeks or so very, very full. As a result, I have not been engaged with the church body nearly enough. My family also has become disconnected to a degree due to my busyness as well as succesive rounds of sickness that have been going through our youngest children. Although we are not intentionally separating from the body, in practice, we are drifting away a bit.
This concerns me, as I see that we are in danger of losing the protection of the flock. When we are integrated into the life of a healthy local church, we experience many nourishing things:
- We are exposed to the nourishment found in regular teaching from God’s word. When we are isolated, it becomes easier to slack off on our intake of truth from the Scriptures. Participating in a weekly sermon delivered by a faithful shepherd is a twofold blessing as it deposits truth in our minds for that day in addition to reminding us to search the Scriptures on our own to see if that which is spoken is true. Being in church encourages us to be in God’s word.
- We are exposed to the nourishment of fellow sheep in the flock. How many times has a brother or sister provided an encouraging word or bit of wisdom that really makes a difference? What new perspective can be found in the collective wisdom of a body of people who love and care for you? There is opportunity for help and healing amongst the brethren, but only if you actually meet with them! Think of all the “one anothers” of Scripture which rely upon being integrated into the community of faith.
- We are nourished by the watchful care of the other sheep in our midst. Are we all not sheep who are prone to wander? Do we not all stray to some extent from time to time? In those times, a loving reminder or gentle restorative rebuke is medicine to the soul. If we are not in the midst of other sheep, then we are missing out on the protection and care found with those who can help us keep on track.
Although each of the redeemed has the power of the Spirit within him, there is a reason God has ordained that we commune together as His people in the local church. Having said that, I am excited for this busy spot at work to lessen. I miss grazing in the green pastures of our Good Shepherd together with my fellow sheep. I miss the nourishment of being engaged with my brothers and sisters in Christ. It will be good to get back to the flock so that I don’t find myself or my family in a place where my pastors and my fellow sheep are wondering why it is so quiet in the Lee family.
Silence is golden. Unless you are alone and separated from the body of Christ. At which point you ought to be looking around the corner for that wolf.