[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 call ourselves Jesus’ followers, but do we follow Him?
Yes, you who trust Him recognize the honor God has given Him. But for those who reject Him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” –1 Peternal 2:7
Yesterday as I scrolled up and down the chanells, I happened upon an ever promising nature program. This show was about British Columbia’s Stone sheep or Stone’s sheep. Considering that Jesus is referred to as the rock of our salvation, or the stone which the builders didn’t want, I found this so cool!
As the narrator started to describe these sheep, he remarked that sheep are pack animals that were made to follow. If you’d been there in the room with me, you might have heard the click–that is, the sound of the light bulb going off in my my brain as those three words hit my ears. (Well, Of course!)
How many times have you heard sheep described as simply dumb animals to explain why we need a shepherd? I’ve used this analogy myself, and while it may ring with truth, how encouraging is it to remember 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 and herding (or following) instincts. To heard anything is to guide it in a particular direction. Therefore, as the sheep of Jesus pasture we listen for His voice and move in the direction that He requires us to move. (John 10:26-28)
Sheep will run from what frightens them, instinctively banning together for protection. This is apparently their ONLY protection from predators. There is safety in numbers. Is it any wonder than that our Lord wants us to gather together? (Hebrews 10:25) 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? However, don’t be fooled, this is still only instinct. Instinct alone isn’t enough. On their own, sheep are extremely vulnerable to making poor choices.
Unfortunately, instinct isn’t wisdom. In fact, we’re quickly lead astray because we follow these instincts alone (or rather, we lean on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
The flocking instinct of sheep is apparently so strong that in 2006 it caused the death of 400 sheep in Turkey. When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, EVEN if it’s not a good idea. (How foolish is that?) Sheep are lost and helpless without a sheperd. (Matthew 9:36) A single sheep lead the 399 that followed after it—plunging 15 meters to their death—all because one sheep tried to cross a ravine. The sad truth is that it’s just as easy for us to do the very same thing if we go it alone and follow the wrong crowd.
Research shows 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; and if there’s a ram in the flock he usually leads.
Amazingly, God’s plan can truly be seen in the things that He’s created, so that people are without excuse for the choices they make. (Romans 1:18-32)
United in One Spirit
Not only is community so important, but how we lead and follow, and WHO we’re following, makes a huge difference. True children of God are lead by the Holy Spirit if, in fact, they have the Spirit of God. (Romans 8:14; Romans 8:1-14 ; 1 John 4)
How/When do we recieve the Holy Spirit?
We recieve the Holy Spirit when we hear the gospel message (the true message about salvation through Jesus Christ), and we believe and accept Him as our Savior and Lord. (Lord means master or owner signifying that we now belong to God) It’s at the moment that we hand our lives over to Jesus that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit who is our guarantee that we will recieve everything God has promised to those who believe. (Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Corinthians 12:13)
Unfortunately, sheep are also prone to wandering. So we can go astray if we don’t follow the Spirit closely. Thankfully, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:3-4) As the good sheperd that He is, He faithfully goes after the one that got away and when He finds his lost sheep, He and all of heaven rejoice. (Luke 15:4-7) ❤
He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. –Luke 24:46-47
“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