Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise from men more than praise from God. (John 12:42-43 NIV)
Some leaders love to create dependence in their followers. They desire to be sole arbiters of what is right and good. They enjoy the attention they receive, particularly the deference given for their opinion on matters of faith and politics.
When the flock comes for their weekly feeding, the shepherd is there with the spoon and bucket. They would not have it any other way. Control the diet and you control the sheep. Keep them calm and sedated. Lull the sheep into passivity and the shepherd has done their job. The best compliment is “Nice sermon” said with a satisfied smile.
Let’s say one of the sheep steps out of the routine of scanning recommended devotionals, old sermons, church newsletters or other pastoral-approved materials. On his own he reads the Bible. He finds a passage that sounds like an ominous warning. It unsettles a spirit that had been asleep. Seeking understanding, he reads the word of the prophet to his shepherd. The glare he receives for his unauthorized reading is so intense that the trite explanation is quickly forgotten. The look threatened to end his spoon fed ritual. Once sheep taste the Word of Life, they seldom return to their docile past. Taste and see that the LORD is good… (Psalm 34:8)
Many religious leaders, began to put their faith in Jesus. Though they were supposed leaders, they were more like followers. They had been spoon fed their entire religious lives, yet they discovered Christ’s words had power. They loved the food from heaven that came from his mouth. They were secret admirers. How they wished they could speak openly about their joy, but they were afraid. The message was clear: Follow Christ and no longer be welcome at synagogue. Become one of his disciples, and be a pariah within your “former” religious community.
Spoon fed Christians pay a price–sooner or later. Their reliance on a shepherd that pacifies and puts at ease will leave them helpless when disaster strikes. When events take place that prophets warned about, the hireling will disappear and their spoon will go with them. If there is no personal Bible study of the prophets, then sheep are in great danger of starvation when evil reigns. If we are not self-feeding and God dependent, then our reliance on the spoon will leave us with little choice but to die.
I know what I am talking about; I used to be a shepherd spooning it out every Sunday. Then I tasted the pure, spiritual word of God. It cost me a secure vocation and comfortable lifestyle, but, oh, how I love to teach hungry saints to feast on the Word.
In times of disaster, they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. (Psalm 37:19)