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Following the Crowd

Updated: May 23

John Chapter 10 Devotional

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. -John 10:27-28

Sheep get a pretty bad rap these days. They have a reputation for being brainless and docile, blindly following the flock without any ability to think or reason for themselves. The word sheep has recently earned an even more derogatory connotation. Calling someone a sheep means they are considered  weak and easily led. People are often accused of being sheep when they blindly follow a celebrity, political leader, or social movement.  They are portrayed as ignorant and unable to think for themselves.

But sheep are actually very intelligent animals with high level memory and recognition skills.  They can differentiate facial expressions on humans, have distinct personalities, and experience a wide range of emotions including fear, anger, despair, boredom, disgust, and happiness.  The flock is a unique community of highly social animals that like to be around other sheep they know and find it stressful to be isolated from their fellow sheep.  They build friendships, defend each other in fights, and feel empathy when their friends are sent to slaughter. 

Sheep are also very vulnerable animals, a prey species that depend on their shepherd and their flock mentality to protect themselves from predators.  Put simply, sheep need each other.  And they need their shepherd. 

It’s not surprising that there are many analogies in the bible comparing us humans to sheep.  Even though we are highly intelligent creatures, able to think and reason for ourselves, we still have a tendency to “follow the flock,”  even when the flock may be following the wrong shepherd.  

My son is a senior in high school and is anything but a follower.  He almost has an attitude of, “if the crowd is thinking it or doing it, count me out.”   Even though we have taught and encouraged him to be independent and think for himself, and in spite of the fact that he is an awesome young man who makes great decisions, I notice in myself feelings of anxiety because he isn’t doing what all the other kids his age are doing (playing sports, moving away to college, competing for awards, etc).  It has been so ingrained into our minds that we need to follow the culture, to conform to what the rest of society is saying, doing, or even thinking, that we second guess ourselves when we choose to not go along with the crowd. 

As followers of Christ, we do not blindly and ignorantly go along with the crowd, or with an individual who may be leading us astray. Our eyes have been opened by Him, the source of light and salvation, giving us the wisdom and discernment to know that He is the only one worthy of following.  

“When He has brought out all his own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”-John 10:4-5

In a world where we have so many influences trying to be our “shepherd,” it’s so important to have a discerning mind. Many people follow friends, celebrities, political influences, and even religious leaders that  they do not even know. But we know Jesus. And we know he is trustworthy. 

To know the true Shepherd, the one who gives us eternal life, and to experience the comfort of knowing that nothing can snatch us out of his hand, gives us a confidence that cannot be shaken. 

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord". -Romans 8:38-39

I love the way we learn through Jesus’ teachings about sheep that we need each other, the fellowship of believers, and that we need a shepherd, the only Shepherd worthy of following.  

There’s nothing wrong with being a follower, as long as you are following the right Shepherd. 

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