“As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” Ezekiel 34:17–18.
Although earlier verses in this chapter indict the shepherds of Israel, in these verses, the Lord is concerned with the actions of the sheep! Some of the sheep and cattle of Israel were hogging all the good pasture for themselves and souring it for others.
This raises the question whether those of us long in the faith are not mature Christians, but just fat cats. We’ve had a lifetime of spiritual food and feel secure in our status before God. Yet we are often intolerant of others coming to faith who contravene the carefully manicured traditions we have built around the Gospel.
John Bowen, of Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto, in his book published this year, Growing Up Christian, finds hypocrisy among Christians the first reason given for leaving the church. This includes personal self-righteousness, refusal to face the difficult questions, and a lack of concern for social issues.
However, John found that many gave up on the church, not their faith. Although they were dissatisfied with pat answers, or that some major questions were considered illegitimate, many continue in areas of ministry the church frequently neglects.
Truth may not always be obvious, but censorship will not aid the quest for it. Are we sufficiently unsure of our faith to need simplistic answers to guard it? If so, have we been instrumental in “muddying the waters,” so deterring others from pursuing their faith through the difficult question?