Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shepherds and Alphas

I am the Good Shepherd.
                       John 10:11
There has been a lot written on the stupidity of sheep.  So as we think about the metaphor of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, it is a little demeaning to put ourselves in the role of the sheep.

We are taught to be strong, self-reliant, independent individuals.

To rely on others is often seen as weakness.

Now, I'm not saying that this is healthy.  Internalizing our difficulties or fears is not a productive stress for our bodies.  It leads to heart disease or strokes or worse.

And yet because leaders are often so admired in American society, can this lead us away spiritually from this image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd?
Even lead dogs need help from the handlers.

A popular saying about sled dogs is this one:
If you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.  
If you are an alpha male or female, you are prone to leadership.  Submission may be an issue for you. So what do you do with this passage?

It could be that our pride is blinding us.  It takes a big person to admit when they are wrong and it takes a big person to admit they need help. This doesn't diminish them as people, it just means they are wise.

At the end of the passage in John 10:20-21, they are accusing Jesus of having a demon because he was saying all these things about being the Gate and the Good Shepherd. Others defended him saying, "Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"  This is an important question for us.  As we consider that the demonic leads one through deceit, we may find that only the truth opens our eyes.

So the question for the independent spirit becomes, "How do you really need Jesus as the Good Shepherd?"  As human beings we realize that we are social animals.  None of us is really independent when we analyze it.  So maybe the healthy thing is to cut through this myth and see the truth.

Dorothy Thrupp wrote these words in the 19th century and they are still true in the 21st:

We are thine, thou dost befriend us, be the guardian of our way; 
keep thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray. 

Jesus is our Good Shepherd if we are wise enough to see the truth.  And if we're not, maybe that metaphor of us being like sheep is better than we would like to admit.

Photo by Wknight94 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lyrics from "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us"

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