There to Protect

It happened just across the square from my office.

Last week two doormen from a security company kidnapped and killed 38-year-old Iara, a resident of the building they were hired to protect. They forced her to sign a check for about $6800 and write a letter to her bank manager authorizing one of the men to cash it.

The manager suspected foul play and alerted the police. Unable to explain the money, the man was apprehended and, on the way to Iara’s apartment, confessed the crime. The police discovered the woman’s body in her bedroom, suffocated with a plastic bag.

The men hired to protect her and the other residents robbed and killed her.

Spiritually, the same happens daily all over the world.

People in charge of the spiritual welfare of others take advantage of them and, to satiate their own greed and ambition, leave them injured and dying.

In Ezekiel 34:10, the Lord condemned the leaders of Israel for being shepherds who were making food of the sheep for themselves.

Paul warned the Ephesian elders of those who would arise in their midst, “not sparing the flock,” but using them as their own personal projects (Acts 20:29-30).

He wrote 2 Corinthians, in part, to expose those who would make slaves of them, devour them, or take advantage of them (11:20) and “to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms we do” (11:12).

To the Galatians, Paul warned that there were those false prophets who required circumcision of them “that they may boast in your flesh” (6:13).

Even though the Philippian church is relatively peaceful, the apostle to the Gentiles warns them of those who would destroy their life in Christ: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (3:2).

Paul writes to the Colossians “in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments” (2:4) which would take them captive by philosophy and empty deceit (2:8) and open them to judgment in matters of food and drink or celebration of special days (2:16).

Peter also warns of false teachers “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,” because many would “follow their sensuality” (2 Peter 2:1-2). “And in their greed,” he adds, “they will exploit you with false words” (v. 3).

The New Testament spends a tremendous amount of space and energy to warning Christians against those who have been placed in positions to protect us and encourage our growth, but who wind up catching us unawares and destroying us for their own greed and ambition.

Just like Iara never dreamed her doormen, hired to protect her, would be her assassins.

We thank God for the many faithful shepherds, deacons, evangelists, teachers, and saints who dedicate themselves to helping us step each day closer to Heaven.

At the same time, we don’t want to delude ourselves that the danger is out there somewhere, far from our front steps. It may be happening at our very door.

Because the false shepherds will insinuate themselves wherever people are half asleep.

The keepers of the door may be plotting our own deaths.

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