Turtles And Churches — Endangered Species?

January 25, 2013
by Diane Eaton

Matthew 10:16a – I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. (NIV)

Matthew 16:18b – I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV)

It has been said that the Church is one generation away from extinction. That would suggest that the Church is an endangered species. Considering all the influences trying to snuff out faith, we could easily see it that way. We realize that we cannot take faith for granted.

I got thinking about that recently when I interviewed an 86-year-old man for a newspaper article about his hobby of rescuing snapping turtles from the road. These reptiles were once plentiful here in Ontario, but now they are becoming endangered and are declared a protected species. The snapping turtle is threatened by a decline in hospitable habitats and also by the prevalence of predators eating their eggs and their young. Also, they are prone to getting run over by traffic. Females seek sandy places to lay eggs, and so roadsides attract them — to their detriment.

Likewise, Christianity is constantly threatened by influences which hinder the budding and nurture of strong faith. Jesus never promised to spare the Church from threats to her members. There will always be "wolves". But Jesus did promise to provide the means of protection. And He did promise that the Church would never become extinct! We are not an endangered species! God is building His Church, and no number of threats can extinguish her. Traditions, buildings, and denominations may become extinct — but not so for the Church — at least, not the Church which Jesus had in mind.

The Church is a composite of people scattered across time and around the world — those adopted by God into His family. His children have dwelt and always will dwell in hostile environments much like vulnerable little turtles do. No building or tradition can preserve them. Their only protection is God — the Almighty Conservation Officer and His spiritual provisions, such as truth and love.

As we learn to trust God as our provider, we will together become a welcome and hospitable habitat for the nurture of vibrant, saving faith, and we will see growth. Where our people are cared for properly, they will be less inclined to stray away in search of meaning, purpose, and love. They will be less vulnerable to enticing "wolves".

Prayer: Lord, help us learn to trust in Your power and love, so that we may together become both a hospitable place for faith to grow and also a strong protection against threatening influences. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for God’s help today.


    Thanks Diane for a good word.


    Wow! This is so good. A very catchy but true analogy Thanks for sharing.


    I think the present Church may be lost and the Church will re-invent itself in a difference form.


    Diane,
    Thank you for the daily devotional.


    Dear Diane: Thank you for today’s message.
    You are right!
    We all need our daily fill of God’d promises which never fail!


    Interesting devotional on church extinction, thank you. As I read the old hymn came to mind, “The Churches One Foundation Is Jesus Christ Her Lord”, with that foundation we will never be extinct. Praise God.
    (B.C.)


    Thank you Diane,
    That was very encouraging! The “church” is the apple of God’s eye. As someone said the church like a ship, is going to reach its destination, stay on board, don’t let anything or anyone cause you to jump off. God bless you.


    Diane:
    Thank you for a truly profound and meaningful devotion. It reminds me very much of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s writings on Christian community and the true nature of the Church. It is truly excellent.


    Thank you for your devotional. It gave me so much to think about. Our church is gradually dwindling in membership and already we are thinking we will have to close. Maybe we have been neglectful of our people and especially the younger ones. We are so few now and feel there is so much work to do.


    Dear Diane
    Many thanks for your inspiring devotional today. So true!
    I say Amen to all of it.
    Prayer: Lord, help us learn to trust in Your power and love, so that we may together become both a hospitable place for faith to grow and also a strong protection against threatening influences. Amen.
    I pray that our Lord will make us to be outgoing Christians, making known his salvation in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of himself for the whole world of people. May many come to Him in faith.
    Keep writing.


    Thank you Diane for a very reassuring reminder that it is God and not anybody or thing that will determine our future. I have been hearing the date for the extinction of the Christian church and faith for a long time. And…each time the date is given a tad later. I also want to thank you for supporting your premise so well. Who would have thought that we Christians could learn a lesson from the snapping turtles. The heathen do not know that nothing that God has created ever becomes extinct. God sees little sparrows fall and His eye is certainly on the snapping turtles.
    Well done!
    Blessings.


    Many thanks Diane!


    Hi Diane,
    Thanks for sharing this experience with us all. We in our home are very dedicated to the welfare of animals.


    Your phrase “where our people are cared for” is so pertinent currently. And there are more and more places for care, not all of which are acceptable. But they are places where we can establish ministries to emphasize God’s loving and permanent care. Thanks for your devotional.
    (BC)

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