The smell of espresso, the sound of froth being made, and my quiet corner to enjoy the morning, these are things I enjoy. Oh crud, someone’s got the corner table again. I just wanted my coffee, no drama, especially internal drama.
Who is this kid cloistered in the corner? He is occupying the entire corner with a laptop, theology book and open bible. Obviously, a minister, No, I think, from his youth, a minister in training.
As I walk by, I causally notice, highlighted; Matthew 7:15,
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Is this his morning study, maybe a seminary assignment? I’ve seen him before, often, always the same corner, coffee in hand, piously contemplating, or seemingly so. Devotion or decoration, one cannot immediately tell. His future is as uncertain as my evaluation. To some he’s admired, even envied. To some his Bible displays intimidating truths that threaten. To me, even beyond taking my spot, he becomes a question. Is he sheep or wolf? What is his nature? Is he false or true? What kind of minister will he become? Will he capitulate to future pressures of the pack or will he be sensitive to his shepherd’s voice. So I wonder, yet I consciously avoid eye contact.
I also wonder on the very nature of wolves and sheep. Does the wolf know he’s a wolf? Wolves are ravenous, pack animals working together to bring down their prey. Whether by instinct or purpose they do what they do for survival, survival of the pack. Wolves then present a mortal threat to the keen senses of sheep. Sheep by comparison are herd animals, secure in the company of likeminded sheep. They would not knowingly put themselves within danger of wolves. Enter deception, a trait foreign to the natural wolf. Speed, agility, and teamwork are the tools of the wild wolf. Not camouflage. This deception is unnatural to the wolf. Not natural at all, but rather supernatural, Sinister in nature, requiring supernatural discernment, spiritual warfare.
I wonder, does this young man have discernment enough to understand spiritually what he is reading, let alone what awaits him in ministry. I can’t get involved I convince myself. Yet, I know how easy, how quickly believers accept a Christian lifestyle without accepting truth. And I know what pressures await this young man. How easy to act the part without being the part.
Still, I wonder about that verse. Strange indeed for Jesus to end his first public message, the sermon from the mount, a sermon emphasizing, “ye have heard, but I say unto you.” Stranger still is it for Jesus to warn of wolves out of character.
Jesus no doubt was warning the unsuspected, the indifferent, the herd of complacent, to beware of familiar sounds and phrases, words cloaked in different meanings. Jesus made it clear, in the verse following, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Jesus was warning about the action that doesn’t match the word.
I hear my name called, my coffee’s ready, time to find a seat. Still crowded. I fight the urge to join the corner table. My conscience wrestles with the thought of sharing victories and failures with someone I don’t even know. I don’t want company, I just want coffee. I stop in my thoughts and struggle to see, that he is me, thirty years before now. I wish someone had guided me through the maze of ministry that surely awaits him. But, I should not offer advice, where none is asked for. I should leave it alone; I should find another place to sit.
Wolves would not warn sheep.
And so I wonder am I wolf or sheep?
Before my mind could change, my heart has moved my hand, extended, and I say, “My name is Mike, can I sit with you? Whatcha reading?”
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