Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Nature of Sheep

SPIRITUALLY FAT. Some sheep are spiritually fat and so well-fed that they now loath the same old meals that brought them health and prosperity in the first place. Such sheep develop a caviar appetite and are always in search of something new and exciting – an unidentified “something more.” Usually bored, these gross underachievers are easily enticed to transfer their membership to greener pastures by the promise of new, deeper, and more fulfilling experiences.

THIN & STARVING. Some sheep are thin and starving because they are devoid of God’s Word and growth opportunities. The root cause could be a lack of Bible study opportunities, outreach ministries, small groups, or volunteer opportunities offered by their church. However, their spiritually starved state can most often be attributed to their own lack of exercise and appetite. They expect others to do it all for them. At a time when they "ought to be teachers” themselves (Hebrews 5:12-14), they are still depending on others to spoon feed them. Such sheep are easily wooed away from their churches by offers of other shepherds to address their most basic needs.

BLACK SHEEP. These sheep are consummate malcontents who are always testing and challenging pastoral decisions, points of theology, policy, procedures, or any other issue that can create controversy. Perpetually ready to escape from their current shepherd, these sheep live in a world of continuous wandering, church hopping, church shopping, and lust of roaming. Typically, they will have a long string of churches in their past that they have previously left because of conflict.

DUMB SHEEP. Dumb sheep are easily influenced and will simply follow other sheep in the flock. They are mesmerized by the opinions and actions of others. Not strong enough to take a stand of their own, they seek security in keeping in line with the latest trends of a group. They live on the outer fringes of the flock, where they don’t have to engage themselves in any of the issues within the church, and are therefore quick to abandon the flock simply because others are doing so.


GROWING, HEALTHY SHEEP. Finally there are the sheep in the flock that are growing, healthy, and have no quirky disorders. They are solid and stable because they press in close to the interior of the flock, accept the wisdom of others, follow their leadership, listen to their shepherd, are not easily offended, feed in pastures where they are led to, study their Bibles and form bonding relationships with other sheep. Jesus said when a shepherd is leading a flock of sheep “the sheep will follow him because they know his voice… and will not follow the voice of a stranger” (John 10:4-5).

These sheep eventally grow up to the point where they begin to reproduce themselves - as sheep should. Sheep give birth to sheep - shepherds don't, sheep do. They produce healthy offspring, just like themselves. The flock increases, grows, and advances the kingdom of God - one life at a time.

They remain sweet in their spirit, are content, and are "restored in their soul." Aimless wanderings are not part of their demeanor, they "lie down in green pastures" and find rest (Psalms 23).

It's almost impossible to steal, or lead astray, sheep such as this. Blessed is the church that is full of them!