Monday, June 13, 2011

Sermon - Birds of a Feather

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says "Abstain from all appearance of evil"

The title of this sermon is taken from a worldly proverb which seems to have been in use since at least the 16th century, having appeared in poetry from that period.

The proverb goes: "Birds of a feather flock together" the simplified meaning of this proverb is that, similar kinds of people tend to like each others company. Rich people tend to hang around with other rich people, poor people associate with poor people, artistic people will seek out each others company.

You may wonder at my choice of using a worldly parable as the basis for my sermon today. But the parable has a much higher truth if you look into it a bit more.

Christians SHOULD seek each other's company.

The story is told of a young lamb, who lives among a large flock of sheep, owned by one great shepherd. To personalise the story a bit, I am going to give our little lamb a name. The lamb's name is Greece.

Now, Greece had been taught from his youth that sheep eat grass, and that it is very dangerous to go wandering away from the flock.

One day a new sheep was introduced to the flock. This sheep had something strange about him... to start with, he had a funny name: he was called Fang. Greece thought that this was a strange name for a sheep, but his mother assured him that Fang was from a different kind of sheep fold, and they probably used different kinds of names there.

Another thing that concerned Greece was that Fang didn't seem to be so much interested in eating grass as the other sheep were. Indeed, on one occasion Greece had seen Fang try to eat some grass but spat it straight out in disgust. Soon after that Fang had told Greece that sheep really didn't need to eat so much grass if any at all, saying that it's only the old bigoted sheep that think that grass is actually healthy for you. Apparently Lambs knew better than the elder sheep...

Well, it so happened that one day, Fang was talking to Greece and asked him whether he should like to go on a little adventure. To that Greece was confused, and enquired as to what an adventure actually was. Fang told him that he needed to get out and enjoy himself a bit more, and explained that an adventure is when you go and explore places that you have never been to before. Greece was a bit hesitant as he knew that leaving the flock was a very foolish thing to do. But in the end he decided to go with Fang, he thought to himself, what could possibly go wrong?

It was a strange feeling for Greece to leave the sheep fold from which he had grown up in, but soon he was engrossed in all the new things he was seeing and experiencing. He was thoroughly enjoying himself, although he felt slightly bad about disobeying what his parents had taught him.

In time Fang brought Greece to his flock, where he introduced Greece to all his family and close friends. Fang's flock was so different from Greece's flock, they weren't so interested in grass, which secretly Greece was starting to get tired of, but they were more interested in having fun and enjoying life.

Greece so enjoyed his time with Fang's flock that he decided to spend more time with them. In time he became one of them, totally engaged in having fun and enjoying himself.

But one day Fang's flock did something very strange, they started to take off all their wool as if they were being shorn. And to Greece's amazement underneath they all looked like dogs. If Greece had known a bit more about wildlife, he would have known immediately that they were wolves. Fang told Greece that they were going to help Greece to do the same to him. The wolves immediately pounced on him and - I don't really need to tell you what a pack of wolves will do to a sheep, do I?

Well I'm sure you understood the parable. The sheep are the people of God. They eat grass which is the reading of the word of God. Greece was warned never to leave the flock, never to leave the ways of God. Greece disobeys. We should always be wary of someone who professes to be a Christian, but they start to question, the traditional ways in which we practice our faith.

Greece enjoyed the ways of the wolves (the world) and started to spend time with them. Eventually the world consumed him and he was dead the Christ, the Great Shepherd.

So this brings us back to the start.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Spend time with the world and you will become like the world.

I was like this once. I was brought up as a Christian, taught to read the Bible. Then one day, I got a new job in computing. I started to make lots of new friends, I was successful at my job, I had a great personality, so I was really well liked.

The problems started occurring right from the beginning, I was too afraid to tell people that I was a Christian. I didn't think to myself that I was too afraid, I just reasoned with myself, that there was no reason why they should know that I'm really any different from them. So I chickened out from telling the world about Jesus, my Saviour.

Well, soon, as you may have guessed, I started to live live my colleagues, I was drinking with them, laughing at their dirty jokes, and I looked nothing different to them. I looked like a SINNER.

Acts 4:13 says: "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

You really can tell the real Christian among a throng of non-believers. They stick out like a sore thumb!

Now here are a few examples from the scriptures:

Solomon. Solomon was the wisest king that ever lived yet he did one of the most foolish things ever. Solomon began to marry foreign women, those women who were very beautiful, but who were not Jewish and thus were never taught about God and brought up to feed on his Word. Young men must beware, even the wisest man could sin in his choice of a wife. We need much prayer in regards to choosing a spouse.

Moses. Moses spent all of his time leading the people of Israel, which was what he was commanded of God to do. The Israelites had a very short temper, and seems to get angry at the slightest change of events. This rubbed off a bit on Moses, who when commanded to speak to the rock that it may bring forth water, he disobeyed and out of anger struck the rock. This was accounted as sin unto him. Again another warning of a true man of God, who was lead astray by the people he was with.

My mind will not seem to bring forth any more examples from Scripture, and the hour is starting to grow late, and I am starting to get tired, so I will leave the word with you. Ponder these thing in your heart, and try to think about who and what kind of people you spend your time with.

God be with you all.


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