If you’ve ever played with a turtle, you have noticed that it can retract its legs, tail and head into its shell for protection from outside influences and stimuli. While reading about just such action in The Complete Book of Discipleship by Bill Hull, I was awakened to the similarities between turtles and little kids and leaders in the church and its members.
Despite a youngsters best efforts to poke, prod, yell at or coax a turtle to expose it’s soft parts, the turtle will inevitably remain “locked down” inside its mobile home. However, when left alone, to see no danger or stick or finger was going to be forced into its face a turtle will indeed stick out its arms and legs and tail and head. When it feels safe and secure, that’s when it will allow itself to become vulnerable and present itself as a real turtle.
How many times have church leaders, small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, or loud mouthed busy bodies in churches across the nation and around the world poked, prodded and scared the “turtles” in our churches? People will not just open up or become real when they are being attacked or when they are being pressured to make a decision for Christ or to deepen their relationship with Him. Instead, these folks are to be lovingly and positively folded into our lives via small groups, micro-discipleship groups and through corporate church attendance and participation. Then, and only then, will these people open up their lives to hear more of Jesus’ message of love so fierce it killed Him on a cross.
And by the way, for all of you (and me, sadly, at times in my past) “kids” who are poking and prodding and judging and condemning these folks…let’s not get too carried away with how it is that we have been redeemed, justified and saved. Or more so WHO did that for us. It was not us, it is not us, we must become less, He must become more.