Beware of Ravening Wolves
There are a growing number of people who are deceived for the fun and profit of others. Beware!
I awoke a few days ago thinking of a Bible verse that I feel compelled to share:
- Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
We are living in dangerous and confusing times, surrounded by millions of voices that say many, many things. If we choose to follow the utterances of one person or another with any sort of devotion, we are setting them up as a prophet of sorts. For instance, I revere Russell Nelson as a prophet, so I am devoted to doing what he says and following the path that he lines out. No one has to use the word "prophet" to describe it, but if you are devoting your actions and reverence to someone's teachings, you are their follower. To a degree, we all attach ourselves to "prophets", whether a person, or a movement, or an ideology, all the time. Notice in this scripture that there is no condemnation of prophets, only of *false* prophets - or things that lead us down bad paths toward destructive ends.
Popular people and ideas try to look good. Can I be honest in saying that attractive (beyond just "looks") people make more effective "prophets" of whatever thing they are espousing? When I see the phrase "in sheep's clothing", I picture in my mind someone nonthreatening, humble, and worthy of trust. Everyone thinks lambs are kinda cute and you can picture the young girl cooing just for a chance to pet and hold the thing! Anyone who wants the rewards offered by followers, like riches and fame, is going to act a bit like the harmless yet helpful sheep. This is done by both good "prophets" and false ones to attract a following.
There is an idea going around that any path you choose is pretty much as good as any other. There is also another widespread concept that the transcendent or "right" path for one person can be different from the transcendent path of another - said in another way: there are many roads that lead to God. I hope you know that I reject both of these ideas and encourage you to do the same. One of the most important efforts in life is to seek out the correct path and follow it to its ultimate destination. As a disciple of Christ, he has said that there is only one path that is correct, the one that leads, through him, to eternal (or God's) life. As always, each of you can choose your own path in relation to your potential as a child of God, but it is my place as a priest to give you the wisdom I have acquired over the years and tell you what I think.
As the scripture above says, there are wolves out there. They are ravenous, as in ripping and tearing up and consuming. In reference to false prophets, this means that there are folks and groups and ideologies out there, who only see us as prey, hide themselves and their intentions in a show of innocence and kindness. and want us to follow them and their "teachings" with devotion. The most important thing to remember about these false prophets is that they only think of themselves and the rewards that the devotion of followers bring - be it money, attention, fame, power, the thrill of watching disciples obey their words, whatever. A false prophet doesn't care about you! The "sheep's clothing" just describes deception, making it look like they care about you and your future when they really just want to use you for their own selfish desires. It is very important to detect these false prophets and get yourself far from them (physically or ideologically), because all of us can be easily taken in by false prophets! Deception can look just like truth and the reverse can be easily promulgated.
We can all be deceived by others who appear caring but are actually "ravenous". Even if one rejects the Bible, I think it is easy to see that there are certainly such deceptive people and ideologies all around us. I get deceived as well, so I turn to the holy spirit (call it intuition if religious concepts offend) to help me ascertain the motives of others. My greatest desire is that each of you find joy and happiness, knowing that lies and deception will never lead to those things. I have learned that only God has the consistent ability to reveal deception, so I encourage you all to turn to him for the answers and "prophets" that you can trust.
As the scripture says, Beware!