Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Do you need a fence?

Good fences make good neighbors -Robert Frost

When Peter first mentioned this week's Blog Carnival topic, fences, several thoughts ran through my mind.

I thought of the fence where I grew up. How it was effective keeping the dogs in the yard, but as time went on due to lack of care or concern, the fence began to fall down. I though of how I tried to mend the fence when it really needed to be rebuilt.

I thought then of my current home where we don't have a fence so much as a block wall. I thought of how just the other day I was in the yard and noticed a spot where the wall was right by a sprinkler head and the masonry had begun to erode.

I thought of the fence my wife and I want to build in our front yard so we will be without with less worry our kids will run into the street while playing.

Then for some reason I thought of the book Who Moved My Church and the different approaches people took once their church was again "found". One locked all the doors to close out the world. Another opened the doors wide and embraced the world. Neither had its desired effect.

The last thought brought up the question what are fences for? Are they to keep the dogs and kids in the yard? Or, like Frost alludes to above, are they to keep others out? Don't they do both? So fences are really about safety and security. Keeping what you want in, while keeping what you don't out.

So I think again of the church. In some ways the church could be criticized for building fences, even walls, to keep out the poor, the wretched, the sinners outside. So some churches over-correct and tear down the fences and accept any and all. But then where is the safety and security provided by the fence?

It would be easy to say our churches need to tear down the fences and walls that divide. It would be an obvious temptation to allow anyone and everyone in for the sake of Christ. But is that the right attitude?

I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:1-10)

But we need to see that it's not us who are to break down the fences or open wide the gates, but Jesus himself. Anyone who comes in any other way, as Jesus describes, is a thief or a robber.

That still sounds like opening wide the gate, letting everyone in, and let Jesus sort them out. But it's not. Because the gate is not wide.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

We want our churches to be "seeker friendly". We want them to be large and reach many. We want as many as possible to enter through the gate of Christ. But Jesus himself said that few will even find the gate. If few actually find and enter through the gate, then aren't most of the rest that come in in the name of acceptance or tolerance thieves and robbers based on the first parable?

Fences are built for safety and security. The Kingdom of God is surrounded by a fence with only one way in. Don't tear down your fences so that more can come in. Because if you tear down the fence, you don't need the Gate.

Today's post is part of a Blog Carnival hosted over at Peter Pollock's site. This week's word is "fences". Please check out the many other well-written, thought-provoking posts.


Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke said...

Such an interesting approach to the topic. Such a thought-provoking message. THANK YOU! God bless you!

Fatha Frank said...

Yeah, I wasn't sure where I was going when I first sat down at the keyboard. When I finished typing, I read what I wrote and had the same response as you. "interesting" "thought-provoking". In fact, I'm still mulling over it in my mind. And I'm the one who wrote it! LOL

A Joyful Noise said...

Enter in at the GATE!! How profound! That is the reason for the fence! The sheep fold provides safety from the enemy and shelter while they are under the supervision of the Shepherd. I agree that some churches have fences to keep out the sinners and the unlovely with their rules and regulations that are man made. Others invite all to become members, without giving them proper instruction on how to receive Jesus. Jesus said come unto me all who are burdened and heave laden and I will give you rest. He ate with sinners, but He also preached the gospel and urged them to leave their sinful life and follow Him. Sinners need to feel welcome in our churches, and encouraged to attend Bible study class.