[We are His people and the sheep of His pasture]
One of my favorite songs right now is a song by Tenth Avenue North called What You Want. Aside from it being catchy and up beat, it was the lyrics that made the most impact on me. One of the lines, in particular, spoke volumes: “So many leaders. You ask for Followers.” We can forget all too quickly who’s truly in the lead.
We call ourselves His followers, but do we follow Him?
Yesterday as I scrolled up and down the chanells, weary of cooking shows, I happened upon an ever promising nature program. It was a show about British Columbia’s Stone sheep or Stone’s sheep. Considering that Jesus is referred to the Rock of our Salvation, I find this very cool!
As the narrator started to describe these sheep, he remarked that sheep are pack animals that were made to follow. If you had been there in the room with me, you might have heard the *click!* (The sound of a light bulb coming on in my my brain as those three words MADE TO FOLLOW made the connection.) Well, Of course!
How many times have you heard sheep described as simply dumb animals to explain why Jesus refers to us as His flock? I’ve even used the analogy myself, and while it may still ring with truth (Lets face it we certainly do NEED to be lead.) How encouraging is it to know that we we’re also MADE to follow? We’ve been wired this way. (Deuteronomy 13:4, Ephesians 2:10)
Herding and Flocking
As the case may be, sheep are known for their strong flocking (herding) and following instinct. As they run from what frightens them they instinctively ban together for protection. This is apparently their ONLY protection from predators.
There is safety in numbers. Is it any wonder that our Lord wants us to be as one… united? It’s much more difficult for a predator to pick a sheep out of a group than to go after a few strays.
It sounds like sheep have a bit of wisdom after all, right? But don’t be fooled, this is still only instinct. They’ve been programmed this way. Instinct alone isn’t enough.
Unfortunately, instinct is not wisdom. We want to believe that we have it all figured out. We even pat ourselves on the backs when we get something right. However, we’re quickly lead astray because we follow our instincts. (or rather, we lean on our own understanding.)
The flocking instinct of sheep is apparently so strong that it caused the death of 400 sheep in Turkey in 2006. When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, EVEN if it’s not a good idea. (How dumb is that!?) This flock lead themselves to their own doom, as they plunged 15 meters to their death all because one sheep tried to cross a ravine. The rest of the flock followed. The sad truth is that it’s just as easy for us to do the very same thing.
It’s said that from birth Lambs are taught to follow the older members of the flock; ewes encourage the lambs to follow; the dominant members of the flock lead, then the submissive ones. If there is a ram in the flock he usually leads.
Amazingly, God’s plan can be seen in the things that He’s created, so that people are without excuse for the choices they make. (Romans 1:18-32)
Not only is community important, but how we lead and follow also makes a difference. First and foremost we are followers of Jesus.
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” –Psalm 100:3