June 19, 2014
(Jesus said) "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits." Matthew 7:15-16
There are times when some of the things the Bible says are frightening in their accuracy and modern day fulfillment.
Certainly, that was true two weeks ago when the Savior's words recorded by Matthew, the words of our devotion's text, were played out in Nigeria. It was just after sunset in the village of Maidiguri when some wandering preachers came to town. They announced that everyone should come together so they could hear a message about "the righteous path."
It didn't take long for most of the people to assemble. Unfortunately, that day there was no message and nobody preached to them about the "righteous path."
That's because Boko Haram, the same fanatical Islamist group which kidnapped hundreds of girls because they were receiving an education, arrived in the village of Maidiguri. Indeed, it quickly became apparent that the "preachers" were also members of Boko Haram. They were false prophets who, in sheep's garb had brought the people together, not to hear a message, but to be slaughtered.
And were the members of Boko Haram ravening wolves? One of the town's survivors counted the bodies. Forty-five of his neighbors had been murdered in cold blood.
The final warning from Jesus' prophecy had been fulfilled: the people had learned to recognize the murdering wolves by the works they were doing.
Now it would be right if you were to offer a prayer of thanks that there are no such false prophets, no such ravening wolves coming into our communities for the purpose of committing murder. Of course, that doesn't mean there are no ravening wolves.
The difference between the wolves who come into your town and those of Maidiguri is this: our wolves are more subtle in their approach and in the results they wish to achieve. While the wolves of Boko Haram want to control people through fear and murder, our wolves are more dangerous.
More subtle in approach and goal, our wolves try to lead believers away from their Savior and the truths of Scripture. Listen carefully to their message. Do they preach Christ crucified and risen or is their emphasis on how to get God to give you stuff? Is the weight of their message on blood-bought forgiveness of sins, or does it assure people they are fine just the way they are?
Whether it be Nigeria or Nebraska, the Congo or Colorado, the wolves are among God's flock.
Knowing that, we need to be prepared. Jesus said, "By their works you will know them." Recognizing the wolves is easy when they are murderers like the men of Boko Haram. It is a bit harder identifying our subtle and seductive wolves. It is harder, but it is not impossible. All we need do is look at their works and words to see if they are pointing people toward or away from the Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Jesus said we should be wary of the wolves. Grant that we may recognize anyone who would try to destroy our faith through violence or words. Keep us always steadfast in the faith and the salvation Jesus has won for us. In His Name. Amen.
All too often the job of reaching others is left to others. That can be unfortunate. After all, there are times when YOU may be the best person to reach someone who is lost or wandering. If you have always wanted to know how to do such a sharing of the Savior, you may want to attend Lutheran Hour Ministries' SENT Outreach Conference, which is July 24-27 in Detroit. For more information, visit www.lhm.org/conference.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries