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Some caterpillars blindly follow one another in procession. Do religious people often do the same? Do denominations blindly follow church traditions, manmade doctrines, and creeds? Do members blindly follow seminary-trained preachers? Do people assume "all these people can't be wrong"? Are you and I "Caterpillar Christians"?
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Processionary Caterpillars feed upon pine needles. They move through the trees in a long procession, one leading and the others following each with his eyes half closed and his head snugly fitted against the rear extremity of his predecessor.
Jean-Henri Fabre, the great French naturalist, … experimenting with a group of caterpillars, finally enticed them to the rim of a large flower pot. He succeeded in getting the first one connected up with the last one, thus forming a complete circle, which started moving around in a procession, with neither beginning nor end.
The naturalist expected that after a while they would catch on to the joke, get tired of their useless march, and start off in some new direction. But not so.
Through sheer force of habit, the living, creeping circle kept moving around the rim of the pot – around and around, keeping the same relentless pace for seven days and seven nights and would doubtless have continued longer had it not been for sheer exhaustion and ultimate starvation.
Incidentally, an ample supply of food was close at hand and plainly visible, but it was outside the range of the circle so they continued along the beaten path.
They meant well but got no place. *
Matthew 15:14 – They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.
Isaiah 9:16 – For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed.
Malachi 2:8 – you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law.
Matthew 23:16-24 – Jesus referred to the scribes and Pharisees as “blind guides.” Four times He called them “blind.” Yet they were confident that they were “a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness – an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes.” (Romans 2:19,20)
Denominations continue in error because the leaders and the people are like those caterpillars. Somewhere in their history they started on a course not found in Scripture; but after starting on the course, they refuse to change because of tradition and an assumption that their past practice was acceptable.
The leaders continue in the same course because their seminaries train them in their creeds and denominational doctrines. The members are convinced their leaders and church traditions would not lead them astray. And “We’ve done it this way for years.” And “Surely all these people can’t be wrong.” And “Our church creed says...”
As food was in clear sight of the caterpillars, so the truth is available in the Scriptures that all these people possess. But no one dares to change course. Just like the caterpillars.
Let us make sure we do not make the same mistake.
The lesson is not that we should inherently reject or doubt everything taught us by elders and preachers in the Lord’s church. God put them in the church to watch on behalf of our souls and help God’s people to grow and mature in His service (Hebrews 13:17; Ephesians 4:11-16).
But neither should we blindly follow any teachers but should continually check the message being taught by comparing it to the word of God as did the Bereans in Acts 17:11. Accept what agrees with the word but nothing that disagrees with the word.
* Lincoln National Life Review, 1974
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2023; gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.