Many are familiar with the old English nursery rhyme Little Boy Blue that dates back to the 18th century. It goes like this:
Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn.
The sheep's in the meadow; the cow's in the corn.
Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?
“He’s under the haystack, fast asleep.”
Will you wake him? “No, not I;
For if I do, he’ll be sure to cry.”
Little Boy Blue has a significant responsibility – to serve as a watchman over sheep and cattle. If cause for alarm arises, then it is Little Boy Blue’s responsibility to sound the horn, alert the people, and rally them to action.
But in the rhyme, a sheep has gotten out of the fold and is in the meadow, and a cow is in the cornfield – each a cause for alarm. Sheep feeding heavily on lush grass can make them sick. When cows get out and trample the garden, they can destroy it.
If Little Boy Blue had been awake and motivated to fulfill his responsibility, then the situation wouldn’t be on the brink of disaster. He would have sounded the alarm so that those listening could respond. Instead, he skirted his responsibility and slept.
Today, many Christians, pastors, and churches are like Little Boy Blue.
All have a responsibility to take watch, to sound the alarm, and to fulfill God’s commands – to share the Gospel, to make disciples, to love justice, to care for widows and orphans, to be salt and light, etc.
But many believers act like Little Boy Blue. They prefer to be either ignorant of their responsibility or at least turn a blind eye to it. If someone calls attention to their irresponsibility, they cry and say, “I can’t do anything about it! So, why bother me? It’s not my problem. Let someone else deal with it. Leave me to my slumber!”
Many believers remain asleep and avoid addressing problems that are a cause for alarm. Communities are rife with people given to the sin of drugs, drunkenness, sexual immorality, domestic violence, abortion, etc. Not only do they refuse to speak against such sin, they also refuse to evangelize people bound to sin and/or those affected by sin. They conclude that if it’s not happening to them, their family, or in their town, then they are excused from taking responsibility.
Although they prefer to stay “asleep,” the Bible says to wake up and expose the fruitless deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:8-14).
Yet when a believer first examines and deals with the sin in his own heart then exposes fruitless deeds of darkness, those who are fast asleep in the church often malign him. The sleepers temporarily awaken from their slumber long enough to cry out, “Who are you to speak out against what is wrong? That’s between other people and God. The church doesn’t need to get ‘involved’ in that.”
Jeremiah faced this type of opposition as he called Judah to repent from her idolatrous ways, but the Lord told Jeremiah: “Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:18-19).
In a culture that increasingly calls “evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20), Christians will be ridiculed for taking a stand for what is morally right, but Jesus said: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:10-11).
When we stand for Christ, as we should with gentleness and reverence, Peter tells us “do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled” because “those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-16).
With the power of the Holy Spirit let us be instruments of God to preserve and redeem a dead, dying, and decaying society – regardless of the cost. Unlike Little Boy Blue, may we stay vigilant and alert, always ready to take on the responsibility entrusted to us.