When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
– 1 Peter 2:23-25
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
– Isaiah 53:4-6
I know. You are supposed to start with the Old Testament quote, but if you’ve ever read 1 Peter, did you ever look for the Old Testament passage that he quotes? If you are like me, you have, but I’m a Christian Nerd. Most of my friends haven’t done that.
I read my daily dose of A. W. Tozer (this time from God Tells the Man Who Cares). He talked about people following leaders. He mentioned David leading worship, Solomon building the temple, Jeroboam making a calf, and Hezekiah leading the people back to temple worship. Yes, Rev. Tozer threw in Jeroboam leading the northern tribes astray by building golden calves (1 Kings 12:25-33). Jeroboam had led a rebellion and seceded from the union with Judah. They needed a place to worship in their newly formed country. He made golden calves and created a ‘high place’ for worship.
Yes, we are all sheep who have gone astray, but Rev. Tozer’s point was that we usually follow someone. He talked about the state of the church (whether the universal collection of all Christian denominations, a specific denomination, or the congregation where you attend) is what it is because of past leaders. The leaders led and the congregation, being very sheep-like, followed. Rev. Tozer went on to say that if you want to know where your church is going, look at your present leaders.
Maybe you have a great pastor that you love dearly. He won’t live forever. He might retire. He’ll be replaced. Of course, he could be a she. Do you have wise laymen in the church that can find another leader of the same caliber? If you have a great church, but you are in a denomination that is falling apart, can you trust your paid staff and lay-leaders to keep your small church faithful within this seething denominational quagmire?
If you have never heard Ken Davis’ presentation called “Super Sheep,” you need to type that into a search engine or go to Youtube. He’s done it and had it recorded multiple times, so it may not be the same each time. He is hilarious in every one of the recordings. Yet, his point is clear in each presentation.
First of all, we don’t want to be sheep. We want to be something strong, like a lion. In 1 Peter 5:8… “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Oops.
Why do we not want to be a sheep? Everybody knows that they talk funny. If you’ve ever been around sheep as Ken Davis admits, they are stupid, weird, scared, and they die easily (along with a few other undesirable tendencies). With each of the undesirable attributes of sheep, Davis compares that attribute to us. And yes, we are like sheep. Ken Davis, at least in some presentations, says that sheep are so into following, he’d personally seen one lead sheep fall off a precipice and at least twelve more followed, all falling to their death. It seems that our entire nation is following various non-gods toward oblivion, just as the Israelites did.
But as Rev. Tozer says, we love following the leader. I was once in a fairly conservative church, but it was very small and could not afford to pay the minister a lot of money. As a result, when they got someone willing, it didn’t matter what his agenda was. After the Cinderella period was over, the preacher’s liberal agenda came to the forefront. His sermon topics were so wrong, it was sickening. Upon leaving each Sunday, he’d search for me and ask me what I thought of his sermon. He already knew. An argument would ensue. An old lady pulled me aside one day and said, “Don’t you do that. If he gets angry and leaves, there will be no one here to pray over me when I pass away.” The arguments continued, but I soon realized two things. The preacher loved to argue, and he considered me his intellectual equal or at least an adequate sparring partner. The other thing that I realized was that people would gather to watch the argument. The argument drew more attention than his sermons. I had to leave. I could not be guilty of creating a sideshow, even though that was the preacher’s intent.
My point in bringing this up was that the church was willing to sell their soul to the devil as long as they had a leader that said Jesus occasionally. In this case, not every Sunday. But they’d follow that leader in order to keep the building occupied. It’s been over ten years since the church collapsed.
I had a conversation with someone a number of years ago. We were talking about Evangelism. I asked him how he would express what he believed to a stranger. His answer shocked me. “I’d say, ‘I really don’t know what I believe, but I’ll introduce you to the preacher and he can explain it.’” When you have this type of attitude, you have no saving relationship with the Good Shepherd. If this lost sheep is in a heard of other lost sheep, they could run over a cliff or they could be eaten by lions. But most likely, the lion will come in the form of a new leader (preacher) that leads the entire flock astray.
Jeroboam led a rebellion, not just against Solomon and the tribe of Judah. He led a rebellion against God, and the ten northern tribes followed willingly.
What Ken Davis points out in his Super Sheep presentation: we have a leader. That leader is Jesus Christ. We have the answers to our questions. They are found in the Bible. When the sheep find themselves in trouble, they run to the Good Shepherd. Faithful, trusting sheep run to Jesus.
Be a good sheep. Read the Bible and know when a ‘leader’ is leading you astray. Then run to Jesus.