Following a shameful display of spiritual pride, a brother or sister once cautioned me with the words “the ground is level at the foot of the cross”. Though not a quote from scripture, the saying has occasionally prompted me to reflect upon my standing before the Savior. On the surface, it is a humbling reminder that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that all of us, no matter how upright and moral, need the Savior.
A few days ago, while writing a friend with with a word of encouragement, I found myself thinking about the word “the ground is level at the foot of the cross” once again. But the saying seemed unfitting for the situation my friend faced: applying salve to wounds received from a controlling pastor. As I was about to dismiss the thought, the Lord prompted me to consider it from His perspective on the cross.
As if looking down from the cross, where Jesus was crucified, with a great crowd watching Him die, I saw several men emerge from the crowd and begin to scurry about, trying to gain the attention of those who were gathered beneath the broken and bleeding feet of our Savior. The men were working to corral the followers of Christ, like wranglers trying to cut and rope cattle to form smaller, manageable herds for themselves.
With such offensive imagery now lodged in my minds-eye, the Lord brought me to John 10 and the difference between Jesus, who is the Good Shepherd and the door to the sheep, and those despicable men, known as thieves, robbers and hirelings who have come into the sheep fold by means other than through the door who is Jesus, so that they might gather some of Lord’s flock unto themselves for profit.
I was left with the impression that there is nothing so abominable before the Lord, as a man who dares to come between the Lord and His sheep, to steal their devotion and adoration for himself.
Was it robbers, thieves and hirelings about which Jesus said:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (2) And calling to him a child, Jesus put him in the midst of them (3) and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, (6) but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1-6 ESV)
Certainly to lead someone away from Jesus, is to lead them into sin, which is what the men in the vision the Lord gave me were attempting to do by gathering Jesus’ followers unto themselves.
The Lord went on to remind me of a passage in Proverbs, wherein Solomon lists 7 sins that are an abomination to the Lord, among them, those who sow discord (division and strife) among brothers.
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: (17) haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, (19) a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)
Where Jesus desires unity for us (John 17:20-23) and all are made one in Jesus, the one who sows discord destroys unity and ultimately leads the brethren away from Jesus. Comparatively, Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Certainly it warrants consideration whether those men who have gathered unto themselves a small flock of believers are pursuing unity unto themselves, or unity unto the Lord.
I would not want to be the man who comes between the Lord and the sheep of His pasture.