So in this post, I’m going to teach my first practical sheep lesson: sheep need a shepherd. Many domestic animals like pigs, goats, and dogs (except Wiener dogs, Italian greyhounds, and so on) can get by on their own. In the southern US, for example, feral hogs are an invasive species destroying habitat and pestering suburbanites. The drama is so palpable that Discovery managed to make a TV show out of it:
They don’t make reality TV shows about wild sheep hunters. Mainly because there are no wild sheep — and because hunting down innocent lambs wouldn’t be very good for ratings. Just imagine what PETA would say if overweight men exterminated this on cable TV:
My sheep wouldn’t last a second in the wild; they couldn’t even survive in lush pasture without the guidance and care of their shepherds. They’re just not very self-sufficient.
We’ve had the sheep for about three months now and already we’ve had our share of shepherding. Their feet need to be trimmed, they need to be shown the way to food and water, and they have a tendency to eat their own poop and get sick.
What’s most amazing, though, is that our sheep don’t acknowledge their need for a shepherd. As I mentioned last time, they are often more fearful of me than grateful for the help that I give them. If I bring a coffee can of corn, they will all come around, but only to satisfy their hunger — not to enjoy my company. A few of them stay to have their heads scratched, but not most. The sheep like to think they’re independent, but as soon as they get hungry, thirsty, sick, or scared, they start crying out for their shepherd’s help.
People are the exact same. In fact, I think this is primarily why Jesus compares us to sheep — because we need a shepherd. And, also like sheep, we often don’t like the idea of being following anyone. We like to pretend that we are self-sufficient. We like to pretend that we can find our own meaning. We like to pretend that we don’t need to protection, direction, and care of a shepherd. So we try to live our lives without our Shepherd Jesus Christ and his Good News.
But we’re just like sheep — when we’re hungry, thirsty, sick, or scared, we end up looking somewhere for help. Many people don’t like the idea of following Jesus, but they end up following something else. They follow a career path, a relationship, a desire — they even follow Miley Cyrus on Twitter. #youvegottobekiddingme.
But the Way that Jesus offers is much different. When we follow after Him, we are living as our sheep-selves were meant to live. Jesus said:
“I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and they know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them in also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.”
If you already consider yourself a follower of Jesus and a sheep in his flock, then don’t be like the sheep who only run to their shepherd when they’re in trouble. Follow your Shepherd close, serve Him, and enjoy Him always. And if you don’t yet follow Jesus, think about who/what you are following. Imagine what it would be like to follow after the only One who knows the Father (God) and the only One who laid down His life for you.