Sunday, November 16, 2008

Super Sheep?

So, we read and discussed 1 Peter 5 at Bible study Wednesday night. We noticed that the "flock/shepherd" metaphor showed up continually, even on different level and situations. For example, Jesus is the shepherd of all Christians. A pastor and elders are the shepherds of a local church. God continually compares us to sheep. Good analogy. Sheep are dumb. They eat weeds that kill them, they run into fences and break their necks, they follow whatever everyone else is doing, they wander away ...need I go on? There is total depravity right there. It just goes to show how hopelessly lost we are without Jesus as our shepherd.

So how does a sheep survive? Can it survive by itself? Let's say that a sheep decides to try to survive by itself. Will it find water? I doubt it, at least not much, and if it does, it will soon wander away and become lost again. Then hunger and thirst will set in--the sheep will become very stressed. The sheep will have no idea which way to turn. I think that describes us 100% at times in our lives when we do not cast all our care upon the Shepherd. We try to do it our own way, we fail, we get lost, we become overwhelmed. And then, we give up wandering around on our own, and start bleating loudly. We call for our shepherd. And he is right there. He comes and brings us to water, feeds us, and directs where we should go. He cares for us...even us stupid sheep.

Not only is it stupid to wander around by ourselves, but it is dangerous. The devil is as a roaring lion--he walks about seeking sheep to devour. He preys on the weak, the young, and the wandering sheep. That is why it is so important to stay in the Word so you do not become weak. That is why it is so important to not let the young Christian be led astray and blown every-which-way by false doctrines. That is why it is so important not to wander away from the shepherd by yourself. Or in groups. Sheep do stupid things together as well.

So how do we as Christians resist the devil? James says (4:7) "God resisteth the proud but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." This passage ties into 1 Peter 5 in the following fashion.

"6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"

I think one can deduce from these passages that if we are humble, if we submit to God, if we obey Him, if we cast all our cares upon Him, that we will effectively be safe from the devil and his plots. If we don't...we are out there as possible prey and feel very lost and confused. The devil wants us to feel lost—God wants us to be confident in Him. No, we may not always be confident about our future in life, but we can rest assured in Him and His plans. “Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

You might say, "But I have no clue where God is taking me!" Hey, don't feel alone. The rest of the sheep don't either. (Including me =D) We are dumb as sheep compared to a man as we as humans are compared to God. We are all walking by faith with the Shepherd...or trying to find our own path...which totally doesn't work. We all have afflictions. "Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." We live in this world, this pasture with thorn bushes.

Just because we submit certain struggles to God does not mean they cease to become trials. We live in a fallen world. We can expect to be tempted and tried on every side. But if we're in the pasture, the Shepherd will protect me. If we wander out by myself, we're going to find trouble: stress, depression, lack of trust, less fellowship, more temptation, worry…on and on and on.

Why do we always try it our way first, and then go to God when it doesn't work? Isn't that counter-productive? It's human, for sure...but perhaps we can try harder not to blaze our own path into the thorns and then beg for help after we get stuck. Sure, the Shepherd will come get us, but why must we repeatedly commit our stupid actions? "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." It reminds me of Israel in the OT, especially the book of Judges. They repeatedly turned their back on God. God punished them, they cried out to Him, He saved them, they worshipped Him, they turned their back on Him again , and so on.

Note also that God loves us ever so much. Chapter 5 is mostly addressed to the plural you, "ya'll", as it is know in certain parts of the country. =) However, when Peter gets to verses 6 and 7, he switches to the singular "you". (Instead of "ye") This further emphasizes out personal relationship with God and His great love for each individual one of us.

We must praise God--be thankful--and we will fins peace with God when we surrender that all to the Lord.We are His sheep, we hear His voice, and we must follow Him. God didn’t say we could see where we were going. But He said we can hear the Shepherd’s voice. And that is all we need in order to follow and become “supersheep”.