God often refers to His people as sheep – which made me wonder what attributes I share with the reputedly dumb animal.
Sheep are born with the strong instinct to follow other sheep. Put a bold or curious one out in front and the rest trail behind. It’s called “flock mentality”. Or it could be called peer pressure. All is well if the leader isn’t heading for a patch of poisonous weeds or craggy cliffs – or into new ideas that tickle the imagination and pull us away from God’s truth.
Sheep are gregarious. They stay in a group while grazing. They are highly vulnerable and agitated when left alone. When alone, they easily fall prey to predators. Just like people. When we isolate, we more easily give in to temptation. There is accountability in the Body of Christ. We help one another.
Sheep are easily frightened and quickly scattered. Scattered sheep are easy prey to predators. How many of us have been through a church crisis and left? A problem arises and we’re out the door. Often, people wander, like sheep, looking for another flock. We get out of the practice of going to church. We spend less and less time in the Word. Our lives begin to unravel. We blame God and say He’s abandoned us when in truth we’ve deserted Him.
Sheep never walk a straight line. They can see forward and behind by wandering. All you have to do is sit in a coffee shop or a shopping mall for half an hour to hear lost or wandering sheep. We see and hear lost sheep all the time, looking for new grass to nibble, looking for answers and hope in all the wrong places.
Sheep depend heavily on their acute hearing and keen sense of smell to warn them of enemies. Studying Scripture keeps our spiritual ears and eyes open and warns us of danger.
Sheep have a high tolerance for pain and cover it because pain makes them vulnerable. People try to hide our sins from God who sees everything. They suffer in silence and in secret. When we go to the Good Shepherd and confess, He removes the sin and heals us. Jesus anoints our head with the oil of salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I am a sheep! Hence, I’m going to stay in God’s fold. I’m going to stick close to the Good Shepherd. Where He goes, I’m going. I’ll listen for His voice and run after Him when He calls. When the wily coyotes (false teaching), dogs (God mockers) and mountain lions (those who plot the murder of saints) come, I am safe in Him. No one can ever snatch me away from my Shepherd. And when the day is over, I will lay my head on His feet and smile, content and full of thanksgiving for the new dawn coming.