I’ll paraphrase what my good friend, David Pharr, is fond of saying: “You don’t have to lose the whole fence for it to be useless; just a small hole will let the wolves in or let the livestock wander out.”
The saying reminds us that small holes in our defenses can be as damaging, sometimes more so, than big ones. When we see large holes in our defenses we rush to fix them, but smaller holes often go unnoticed until it is too late.
Last week, the Fort Wayne Parks Department learned firsthand the truth behind this wise saying when a suicide terrorist caused $300k in damages to their new $2 million community center. Well, “suicide terrorist” might be a little strong. You see, it wasn’t a jihad; it wasn’t a bomb; rather, it was a squirrel, a harmless critter that made a fatal mistake.
Apparently, the squirrel got into the electrical equipment of the building and created a “power surge that damaged the heating and air conditioning systems and some parts of the boiler system.” Obviously, it didn’t end well for the squirrel. But I think we, in the church, can learn a few lessons so that this tragic squirrel death won’t be in vain.
1) Squirrels might look harmless, but they can cause a lot of trouble! False teachers may seem harmless enough, but if they tinker with the wrong wires, they can cause severe damage in a church. Jesus said “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Squirrels can be dangerous!
2) Be vigilant. Look for holes in the fence. Paul warned: “after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). A squirrel isn’t going to let anything, not even massive power lines, get in its way. The threat of spiritual death is not much of a deterrent to those who set their minds to damage Christ’s church.
3) Grow the flock and mend fences at the same time. Often, truth suffers for the sake of growth or growth suffers for the sake of truth. In Nehemiah’s day, he armed the people with a sword and a trowel so that they could build AND defend simultaneously (Nehemiah 4:17).
Are there squirrels among your congregation today? Be vigilant and keep them away from the electrical room…for your sake and theirs!