We arrived at the second location on our mission trip in Jamaica when my wife pointed out the vultures perched on top of the church. What we saw spoke for itself. There is no safe place, death is never far off. Somewhere in our religiosity and our knowledge of historical precedence, we view the church as an asylum, a safe place from the darkness and death that dominates the world but the vultures are still all around us.
Let’s not be too hard on the vultures.
It is easy to attack these scavenger birds as if they were death itself. It is natural to look at the obvious and label it as the cause. Vultures do not rip apart the healthy and although they will kill the sick and dying, they do not hunt to sustain life. They play a part. They get rid of the no longer viable and clean up the mess left behind by the dead and dying. They have a job dictated by instinct just as the world has a job dictated by its sinful instinct and its evil ruler. Satan will continue to gorge himself on the dead and dying flesh of those who reject Christ. He delights when illness infects those who were once healthy in their faith.
A metaphor can only go so far before it falls apart.
As much as I love metaphors this one has got a weak spot, actually two.
1st What Satan devours is not excreted as waste like food eaten by a vulture. Instead, those he rips apart join him in his task to prey on those who remain. They wait for the weak, the dying and the dead in their faith. They perch on the rooftops of churches, in the boardrooms of business, in the halls of government, in the media we consume and even in the church services we attend. Once we recognize them we call them out and ask the vultures to stop feeding like vultures. We get nowhere because you can’t ask a vulture not to behave like a vulture.
2nd What Satan devours is not lost. The vulture digests, permanently altering the dead or dying prey. What Satan rips apart God can restore. Once made alive again, no longer will they perch on the rooftops of churches, in the boardrooms of business, in the halls of government, in the media we consume and even in the church services we attend looking for the dead and dying to devour. Once they recognize their need for God, their dead or dying flesh is restored to life. No longer are they food for vultures and no longer do they feed like vultures.
When we look around we can see many vultures but what can we do?
There is a precedence of hiding in our churches, pointing out the vultures to the other vultures and expecting them to agree with us that the vultures are bad. We blame the vulture for acting on instinct while we allow ourselves and those around us to become weak and sick. First we need to start using our energy to strengthen our faith so we do not become vulture food. Then we need to offer the vultures, the dead and dying, living water and the bread of life, eternal sustenance.
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 10:10 (NIV)