by Niki Turner
"When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke - like sheep with no shepherd they were." Mark 6:34 The MessageJesus compared humans to sheep. I always pictured that verse with pathetic, fluffy sheep, helpless and victimized by predators, unable to find food or water for themselves. That was before I found out what shepherd-less sheep are really like.
It's a privilege to live somewhere you get to witness the parables of Christ in living color. Our community is home to one of the largest sheepdog trials in the world. (Remember the movie Babe? Same idea, sans pig.)
Every spring, local flocks are herded into the high country and left behind to graze and grow all summer long. For months they fend for themselves, without benefit of a shepherd or a sheepdog. In early fall, before the snow flies, the flocks are brought down into the valleys to spend the winter.
It's these "wild" sheep that are used in our sheepdog trials. These undomesticated sheep will literally turn on the dogs sent to gather them. They don't just run away either, they'll turn on the dogs and kick at them, even try to bite them. Sometimes the dogs, who've never experienced biting, kicking sheep, are so demoralized by the experience they just turn tail and run away.
These sheep are neither friendly nor fluffy. Their wool is matted and full of burrs and ticks. They have their own hierarchy of leadership, based on the survival of the fittest. As far as they are concerned, they don't need a shepherd, or a sheepdog... In my opinion, these are the kind of sheep to whom Jesus was referring. These are the ones He was sent to reach with His message of love and good news.
What's wrong with being a wild sheep, you ask? At worst, you'll bond with others of like kind to rebel and resist, and lead others astray. Everything will take twice as along to accomplish. You'll resist the very things available to you through submission to the shepherd that would greatly improve your quality of life. The shepherd has your best interests at heart.
Are you a wild sheep? A sheep without a shepherd, running amok?
In what areas of life do you find it hard to submit to the authority/leadership of another?