Public Broadcasting System documentary on wolves was most enlightening to me. A wildlife biologist spent years studying and filming a wolf pack in Idaho. What he learned has important spiritual lessons for us.
A wolf pack is an extended family. They live and work together as a unit. They share the kill of wild game. They share duties of raising their young. Contrary to popular belief that wolves are dangerous to humans, the documentary said there is no authenticated case of wolves killing humans in America.
The most striking characteristic of the wolf pack is its social organization. There is a rigid social pecking order, from top to bottom. Each wolf knows his or her rank in the pack. The biologist calls the “top dog” the “alpha wolf.” This animal is usually the biggest, strongest, and smartest wolf of the pack. He is the real, active, leader of the pack, the inspiration for everything the pack does. He decides where the pack hunts, and who eats first when a kill is made. The alpha wolf is the only one who mates. The other wolves pay obeisance to him by laying on their backs, while he somewhat playfully, somewhat seriously, acts like he is biting their necks. The beta wolf is second in command. He is usually entrusted with the important function of teaching the young wolf pups.
The rank continues in the pack, down to the underdog, the “omega wolf,” the lowest of the low. All the other wolves pick on this poor fellow. He has to wait for the scraps of food that the other wolves leave, after they are full. They snarl and snap at the omega wolf at every turn. He often has to humbly go about with his tail between his legs, and lay on his back to all the other wolves while they pick at him and humiliate him. His only hope is that some other loser will take over his ugly rank so he can move up a notch. You sure wouldn’t want to be an omega wolf.
I was struck by the similarity of people to wolves.
In high school, we had an “omega wolf.” His last name, appropriately, was Zedwick. His fellow students continually made fun of him. When anything went wrong, “Zed” was blamed. Zedwick was the last of the alphabet, and the bottom of the heap. He was the butt of jokes, ridiculed, shamed, and laughed at. He was often set up by one or more cruel practical jokers. Although I was not one of his major tormentors, I am sorry to admit that at times, I, too, picked on him. As usually happens, when someone thinks you are stupid, makes fun of you at every turn, you often act the way people think of you (this is known as the “Pygmalion Effect”). It is a law of human nature that we often become what others think of us. Yes, Zedwick did often do some dumb things. But, as I understand now, the rest of us “wolves” helped to make him act this way. Are you an “omega brother” or “omega sister” in the Church?
The Messiah, during His three and one half year ministry, was kind of an “omega wolf.” In Revelation 1:11, He said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” For years, I have misunderstood this verse. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In Hebrew, it would be Aleph and Tov, and in English, A and Z. I erroneously thought that He meant in this verse that He was saying He has always existed, and will always exist. It is true that the Messiah has no beginning, and no end. However, this is NOT what this verse is saying. The alphabet is NOT a chronology, but an ordered ranking. Our school grading system gives an “A” for the top grade, on down to an “F” for a failing grade. By saying He was the Alpha and Omega, Jesus stated that He is the first and last in rank: the top dog, and the underdog.
The first time the Messiah came, He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, despised, ridiculed, and scorned, Isaiah 53; Psalm 22. As He said, “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting,” Isaiah 50:6. Compassed about with dogs, Psalm 22:16, He never lost His cool; He took it all, for you, and for me. And so it is today, that when Christians are persecuted, it is in reality for Christ, in His place, that they are scorned and ridiculed, called names of humiliation. Mockers of God do not curse our names nearly so much as they curse the Messiah’s name. Jesus is still the Omega, in God’s people today.
And when our Savior gloriously returns, He will be the Alpha to the whole world, as He is to us right now. He will rule the world with the rod of His mouth, Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 12:5, 19:15.
Now why did the Messiah first become the Omega, and later will become the Alpha? Because His reign will be tempered by knowing what it is like to the underdog. The captain — the Alpha — of our salvation was made perfect through His sufferings, Hebrews 2:10-11. Jesus knows what it is like to be the Omega, the underdog. He has great compassion for the lowly, the poor, the needy, the oppressed, the shamed, the spit upon.
Many in the Sabbath-keeping community today, will tell you that the main problem in the Church is that all too many want to be the Alpha, the top dog. This is the problem of Nicolaitanism, those who desire to rule over the brethren. Christ, however, already has the Alpha position. That job, that rank, has already been taken. Those who strive for rulership over the brethren are in danger of being cast out by the Alpha, and thus becoming lone wolves.
Actually, a far greater problem, rarely mentioned, but far more prevalent, is the Omega problem. All too many of us create Omegas, scapegoats, underdogs, Zedwicks, of our brethren. This is usurping of a different kind. The bottom job, the lowly position of Omega, is already taken as well, by Christ! He is the Alpha and Omega, the top and the bottom, the first and the last. The rest of us are merely brethren.
Perhaps no other forum tends to create snarling wolves labeling other wolves as Omegas, like the Internet. E-mail wrangling, chat room brouhahas, and such, are often uncivil, and, in my opinion, ungodly. Recently, Mr. X had the audacity to send me a series of back and forth E-mails with another person, which he thought proved that Mr. Y should be shunned by the rest of us. He referred to “Y” as “a fringer and a nut case.” Others, like a pack of wolves, jumped into the fray, labeling “Y” as “deranged,” full of “madness,” a “religious whacko,” and other such slanders. The series of E-mails proved no such thing, except that these individuals were acting like vicious wolves. These frothy name-callers are not ordinary folk, but supposed leaders of the Sabbatarian community. I too have done this sort of thing, and I am ashamed of myself. To his credit, Mr. X later admitted his conduct was improper. Although wolves can teach us important object lessons, it appears that human wolf packs are sometimes even more malicious than the animal variety.
Mr. “Y,” whom these folks were attacking, definitely has some wrong theological ideas. But, that does not justify others to utter unkind, un-Christian ridicule and name-calling. When you get people accustomed to blazing on the computer keyboard all their aggressions and passions, you have an ideal venue for Satan to do his work. With this kind of accusation and backbiting, we are doing the work of Satan for him.
Remember, the Omega position is already taken by the Messiah: “I am the Alpha and Omega…” Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13. We should defend the omega underdog brethren, have compassion for the poor, the needy, the ridiculed, the one everyone picks on. In so doing, we honor our Savior.
False prophets and princes in the Church today are all too often like roaring lions, ravening wolves, Ezekiel 22:23-28. Like the Chaldeans who devastated God’s people, they violently ride the Internet, scoffing, deriding others, and are themselves “more fierce than evening wolves,” Habakkuk 1:6-10. We should not cut anyone’s dignity to the bone like an evening wolf, Zephaniah 3:3. If Jesus told you to beware of people with the characteristics of wolves, would you follow His instruction, or would you instead engage in harsh computer keyboard rhetoric? Please read Matthew 7:15-16. Today’s flock is infected with “grievous wolves,” Acts 20:29-30.
Instead of being a wolf, we need to be a lamb, a smart one who knows how to avoid a confrontation with a wolf. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves,” Matthew 10:16. See also Luke 10:3.
It took a wolf television documentary to teach me that I have at times acted like a wolf, when I should be a lamb. While many continue to flog omega brethren in the Church, the day is coming when they will learn, and turn from their ways. In the World Tomorrow, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them,” Isaiah 11:6. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord,” Isaiah 65:25. God speed that day!
— written by Richard C. Nickels W
ne day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.
I had quite a weekend planned, parties and a football game with my friends the next afternoon, so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him.
So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.
As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you’re gonna really build serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak. Graduation day came, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I, and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous.
Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said. He started his speech, cleared his throat and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach... but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”
I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”
I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy
told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me and
smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its
depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one
small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse, God puts
us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in
You now have two choices, you can: 1) Pass this on
to your friends, or 2) Delete it and act like it didn't touch your
heart. As you can see, I took choice number 1. — from the Internet W
“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”