3 Truths on How God Designed His People For Community
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Christians were made to be part of a community. We can pull some truths from the analogy of sheep to God's people in the Bible to understand more deeply why this is so.
In the gospels, Jesus is often referred to as the shepherd, with those who follow him called his sheep.
Throughout the old testament, God also uses the description of sheep for his people- while calling himself the shepherd.
I’ve written before on the topic of what it means to view Jesus as a good shepherd (you can read that, HERE) but today I want to look more closely at the idea of being part of a flock.
The words, little flock, stood out to me as I read Luke 12:32. And it made me think of three truths:
1. Followers of Christ are not lone sheep.
2. A flock moves and works together.
3. While a shepherd cares about the individual sheep, much of what he does is for the benefit of the flock as a whole.
As someone who leans toward being somewhat independent and introverted, I need to remember that I am not a lone sheep.
Neither are you.
In fact, it's not good for sheep to be alone.
Sheep are not solitary animals. Here’s what I found out in the Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine:
“Sheep display an intensely gregarious social instinct that allows them to bond closely to other sheep and preferentially to related flock members. Flock mentality movements protect individuals from predators.”
“Separation from the flock can cause stress and panic. Isolation from other sheep can cause severe stress and should be avoided.”
Disciples of Christ, we need each other. We weren’t designed to do this life on our own.
A shepherd who wants to move a flock to a new location works to keep the flock together for a couple of obvious reasons: it’s more efficient and it’s safer!
Sheep will scatter, occasionally, but the goal of the shepherd is to keep them together. And it’s for their own good.
Finally, Luke 12:32 made me think about the blessings the Good Shepherd gives to his sheep. I had to ask myself, when I pray, am I thinking about myself as part of a flock or as a solitary sheep?
I know Jesus cares for me as an individual. He loves you the same way. One of my favorite parables is the one (found in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7) about the lost sheep and the shepherd who left the 99 to find the one who was lost. But I’m also learning that a good shepherd has an eye on the bigger picture, too. He wants the whole flock to flourish.
A solitary sheep may not know why the shepherd does things a certain way because it doesn’t have the wider perspective what’s best for the group in mind. That which benefits the whole flock also benefits the individual sheep.
I’m thankful that I can trust the Good Shepherd. The more I learn about sheep, the more I realize just how powerful and purposeful are the analogies given in the Bible about God, his people, and shepherds/sheep. The Bible is really quite amazing!
I pray that you will know the voice of the Shepherd and that you will find protection, peace, and purpose within His flock.