November 10, 2008

Heart of a Shepherd

In the western big city world, a world of democracy, capitalism, self ambition and success, it is so very hard to picture the concept of a shepherd. Often real leaders are even hard to find. So many of us don't even want leaders. We want to do our own thing. But is that really the best idea?

Throughout the Bible, God and later his son Jesus was referred to as a shepherd, and the people for whom his heart longed were likened to sheep. Not a very flattering description. I know. Although the more I study it, the more accurate it seems to be.

It's so easy to just want to do, what we want to do. I think that must be the natural instincts for every living creature. But if you ever read stories about sheep, you would know that is not always a good idea to follow your natural instincts.

If sheep didn't have a shepherd, quite frankly, they would die. They wouldn't know how to find food or water. If they fell over they couldn't get up to go eat or to protect themselves from the weather. Frankly I don't think they even know how to protect themselves from the weather or from any danger whatsoever. So in the case of the sheep, it's best that they have a shepherd.

And the shepherd isn't there just to tell you what to do. The shepherd is there for protection from the wolves that seek to tear the sheep to pieces.

Zechariah 10:2 NIV The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

On the contrary, Jesus likened himself to a shepherd, with great compassion and caring for the sheep.

Mark 6:34 NIV When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

His heart's desire was to be the caretaker and provider for his people. He gave up everything to save the ones that were lost.

Matthew 18:12-14 NIV "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them
wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

Now that the Scripture has demonstrated a shepherd's heart, I need to ask you a question. Do we have the heart of the shepherd?

Now I understand some people have no interest in being led whatsoever. But for the rest, do we come across with compassion of a shepherd, or with the constraints of a dictator? If we are supposed to be following Jesus, shouldn't we have his heart for the lost as well?

Luke 19:10 NIV For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Are we seeking? Are we saving? Or are we just doing what's convenient? In the past I've heard the argument, "But I don't know any lost people." or, "... if the Lord opens the door I'll go."

After a very disturbing dream I had this morning, I feel the need to propose, perhaps our lack of 'seeking and saving' has less to do with opportunity, and more with the condition of our heart. Do we really have the heart of the shepherd we claim to follow? Would we ever be willing to lay down on lives for the sheep?

Think about this for a while. Maybe as this thought develops, I will write more.