Matthew 10:16a – I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. (NIV)
Matthew 16:18b – I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV)
It has been said that the Church is one generation away from extinction. That would suggest that the Church is an endangered species. Considering all the influences trying to snuff out faith, we could easily see it that way. We realize that we cannot take faith for granted.
I got thinking about that recently when I interviewed an 86-year-old man for a newspaper article about his hobby of rescuing snapping turtles from the road. These reptiles were once plentiful here in Ontario, but now they are becoming endangered and are declared a protected species. The snapping turtle is threatened by a decline in hospitable habitats and also by the prevalence of predators eating their eggs and their young. Also, they are prone to getting run over by traffic. Females seek sandy places to lay eggs, and so roadsides attract them — to their detriment.
Likewise, Christianity is constantly threatened by influences which hinder the budding and nurture of strong faith. Jesus never promised to spare the Church from threats to her members. There will always be "wolves". But Jesus did promise to provide the means of protection. And He did promise that the Church would never become extinct! We are not an endangered species! God is building His Church, and no number of threats can extinguish her. Traditions, buildings, and denominations may become extinct — but not so for the Church — at least, not the Church which Jesus had in mind.
The Church is a composite of people scattered across time and around the world — those adopted by God into His family. His children have dwelt and always will dwell in hostile environments much like vulnerable little turtles do. No building or tradition can preserve them. Their only protection is God — the Almighty Conservation Officer and His spiritual provisions, such as truth and love.
As we learn to trust God as our provider, we will together become a welcome and hospitable habitat for the nurture of vibrant, saving faith, and we will see growth. Where our people are cared for properly, they will be less inclined to stray away in search of meaning, purpose, and love. They will be less vulnerable to enticing "wolves".
Prayer: Lord, help us learn to trust in Your power and love, so that we may together become both a hospitable place for faith to grow and also a strong protection against threatening influences. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "God Who Made The Earth" (Lyrics)