by Kevin Burton
If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
“Ha,” you say. “Burton has run out of blog ideas!”
Not so, stay with me here, hold that thought.
In his pamphlet “Experiencing Intimacy With God” produced for Our Daily Bread Ministries, Joe Stowell borrows from Mother Goose to make a spiritual point.
“Little Bo Peep’s consultant was wrong,” Stowell writes. “Sheep don’t find their way home if you leave them alone!”
Now this brings a smile. But there is a huge Biblical lesson here is there not?
Any sheep that can find their way home have no need of a shepherd, Little Bo Peep or otherwise. And, how much do you really know about sheep?
Why is it that the Bible so often compares humans to sheep as opposed to any other animal, say cats, or foxes?
I never understood it until I began learning a little bit about sheep.
Not the sharpest tools in the shed.
I was in a Sunday School class with some people who actually kept sheep, dealt with them on a daily basis. They explained to the rest of us that sheep have certain limitations.
On the website “momremade.com” Julie Plagens lists nine reasons why God compares us to sheep in the Bible. Among them, sheep have no sense of direction, sheep are defenseless, sheep can’t get up without help, sheep can’t care for themselves when wounded.”
Plagens is putting things kindly. Others don’t.
Renee Fisher on the website womensministrytools.com has a Bible study series called, “Sheep are stupid.”
“The Bible is full of illustrations that compare people to sheep,” Fisher writes. “Jesus gave us the greatest example of how to rely on him: ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ (John 10:11). Jesus protects us as a shepherd protects his sheep.”
The pamphlet I mentioned above is actually an excerpt from Stowell’s book “Radical Reliance: Living 24/7 With God at the Center.”
His theme: just as sheep are not equipped to navigate life without a shepherd, humans have no hope, zero, of surviving life apart from God.
If we were animals, what kind of animals would we be? We think we would be foxes, or lions, or majestic eagles in flight. But we would be sheep, every one of us.
So many people reject that notion though. Pulling themselves up to full height (full height being the person standing on top of his pride) I can hear them saying, “Well I’m no sheep. I’ve risen to Vice President at work. I’ve raised three children, sit on several boards. Let me tell you, I’ve fought through adversity, some tough battles and come out on top…,” blahdy-blahdy-blah.
This guy thinks he’s two or three You Tube videos away from having his act together completely!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look down on those accomplishments. They certainly have value on earth. But what happens when that old heart stops beating? When your bank account and your “rights” slip through your fingers, where are you then?
God calls us, while we are yet sinners and offers us the chance to sign up for radical reliance – faith in Jesus Christ – on this side of the grave, while there is still time to make that choice. How amazing is that?
I’ve heard preachers say that you can’t get a person saved until they understand that they are lost. So true, people don’t know.
That’s why we try to grab God’s wisdom and tack it on to our own. We pluck from the Bible, warm thoughts and ideas that seem good, hoping to make life 25 to 40 percent more efficient.
That’s not radical reliance. It’s not what God is looking for.
Among the things He is looking for, according to Stowell, “a repentant turnaround in attitude and action, a repudiation of self-sufficiency that leads to a radical reliance on Christ and a conscious connecting in ongoing communication (with God).”
I have read Stowell’s pamphlet, I just ordered the book. I hope you will join me by God’s grace, on the road to radical reliance on God!