Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 12, 1970


Jack Gibbert

God has seen fit in his word to use many animals and vegetables to tench man a spiritual lesson, he uses the birds, ants, trees, grass of the field and even the grain of wheat. While the Bible never mentions a lemming I believe a good spiritual lesson can be learned from its unusual habit.

The encyclopedia Britannica has this to say about lemmings, they are "a small arctic mouse-like rodent... About five inches long... Their food is entirely vegetable, especially grass roots and stalks, shoots of dwarf birch, reindeer, lichens and mosses. . . The circumstance which has given popular interest to the lemming is that certain districts of the cultivated lands of Norway and Sweden, where under ordinary conditions they are unknown, are at uncertain intervals overrun by an army of lemmings. These emigrations, which usually occur every three or four years, although occasionally the interval between them is longer, are always down hill toward the sea. . . The lemmings advance steadily and slowly, regardless of all obstacles, swimming streams and even lakes of several miles in breadth and committing considerable devastation on their line of march by the quantity of food they consume. . . None returns and the onward march never ceases until they reach the sea, into which they plunge and are drowned. . . The principal facts of these emigrations seem to be that when any combination of circumstances has occasioned an increase in the number of lemmings in their ordinary habitat, impelled by a migratory instinct they begin to move toward lower-lying land. The whole body moves forward slowly, always advancing in the same general direction in which they originally started, but following more or less the course of the great valleys. . . Lemmings breed with such prodigality as actually to increase their numbers during the journey..."

As I think about this furry ball of self destruction I am reminded of the lemmings within the church of Christ. Christian lemmings, who, like their arctic counterparts at uncertain intervals overrun the mountain of the Lord's house and begin a mad suicidal march into the sea of denominationalism. While the parallel isn't true all the way (for instance the arctic lemming is one of God's most courageous creatures, but the Christian lemming has no appetite for controversy) it is true of the suicidal marching characteristic.

While in small groups or individually, lemmings pose no threat or problem to the land; no one thinks they're worth rooting out or bothering with. One lemming here advocates putting the college into the church budget, another there would like to see a coffee pot and hot plate in the back room of the meeting house, another over yonder wants to hire a special youth minister to direct affairs for the young Christians, but no one worries about these few lemmings, what harm can a handful do anyway? In fact, no one recognizes the symptoms of lemming fever until it reaches epidemic proportions. When we see a good-sized army of our brethren "On The March" then we know it has hit again and it's too late to stop it.

"Downhill all the way." Like the arctic lemmings these brethren press down into the abyss. There are no upward surges of spiritual revival, occasionally they must go upward for a short way in order to continue downward but any upward movement is only a means to a downward path, they are committed to a course toward denominationalism and that requires chucking aside spiritual value after spiritual value. There is no room for Bible authority in the sea where they are going, it is devoid of so much as one "Thus saith the Lord." To get there one must march a long way downhill from the mountain of the Lord's house.

"Advancing steadily, slowly, regardless of all obstacles." This "marching" fever seems to grow even so slowly but it is steady and the pace is quickened as they near the sea. There are many obstacles to stop them, streams and lakes of living water, placed there by the finger of God, but they jump right in and swim over them never to cross back again. If they had but stopped to drink deeply of the Lord's water, perhaps they might have seen the deadliness of their path, but they, like the arctic lemmings, are in too much of a hurry to give consideration to what lies at the end of the road, they can only think of one thing, "Look how fast we are moving toward lower ground."

"Keeping the same general direction, following the great valley," all attempts to turn or stop them are in vain. They choose with care the easiest path of resistance, never following the ridges down, they take the great valleys and keep heading DOWN.

"They increase their numbers during the journey." It's strange how they seem to grow in ever greater numbers, "surely so many can't be wrong" — but soon the originators and those newly born into their marching army will all find themselves drowned in the sea of denominationalism. Even today the forward most scouts for the army have already plunged in and we find it hard to tell them apart from all the other lost nations in the sea. These lost, drowned, troubled souls call out from the deep, adding their "voices of concern" to those of their denominational counterparts, "Come to the sea, come to the sea," they are crying to those still on the mountain of the Lord's house, they can't understand why anyone would want to remain alone up high on that mountain, they plead "We be brethren, come to the sea with us." Listen my brethren, listen, like the sirens of mythology they cry out, but only the lemmings among us can hear them. Yes, there are still lemmings among us, they want more and more to lose the distinction between the Lord and the World. There is a compromising spirit on the loose within the camp of Israel and few have grown to fear it. Before it can become openly manifest, the present march which is now nearing the sea, must be completed. Then all they, like the Christian Church and Disciple lemmings before them can all cry out together to the few lemmings left among us, "Come to the sea."

May the grace of God preserve and keep us from the lemmings.

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