Summary: Many congregations are full of people, do they look like sheep or goats. Their eternal destiny relies on this appearance.
Lynn Anderson, in "They Smell Like Sheep relates this story: “Several years ago in Palestine, Carolyn and I rode a tour bus through Israel’s countryside nearly mesmerized as the tour guide explained the scenery, the history, and the lifestyle. In his description, he included a heart-warming portrayal of the ancient shepherd/sheep relationship. He expounded on how the shepherd builds a relationship with his sheep—how he feeds them and gently cares for them. He pointed out that the shepherd doesn’t drive the sheep but leads them, and that the shepherd does not need to be harsh with them, because they hear his voice and follow. And so on… He then explained how on a previous tour things had backfired for him as he was giving this same speech about sheep and shepherds. In the midst of spinning his pastoral tale, he suddenly realized he had lost his audience. They were all staring out the bus window at a guy chasing a ‘herd’ of sheep. He was throwing rocks at them, whacking them with sticks, and sicking the sheep dog on them. The sheep-driving man in the field had torpedoed the guide’s enchanting narrative. The guide told us that he had been so agitated that he jumped off the bus, ran into the field, and accosted the man, ‘Do you understand what you have just done to me?’ he asked. ‘I was spinning a charming story about the gentle ways of shepherds, and here you are mistreating, hazing, and assaulting these sheep What is going on?’ For a moment, a bewildered look froze on the face of the poor sheep-chaser, then the light dawned and he blurted out, ‘Man. You’ve got me all wrong. I’m not a shepherd. I’m a butcher’” This poor unwitting fellow had just provided the tour guide and all of us with a perfect example of what a ‘good shepherd’ is not.”
Jesus calls himself the GOOD SHEPHERD.
What does a Good Shepherd do?
1. Ps 23 tells us he Leads, He Guides, He protects, and He provides.
2. John 10:11 He lays down his life for His Sheep.
3. John 10:14 He knows his sheep. He has an Intimate relationship with them.
1. They know the Shepherd, Jn 10:14
2. They know His Voice (many distractions, but they hear his voice)
1. Repent Mt 4:17
2. Stop sinning Jn 5:14 and 8:11
3. Grow in Righteousness Matt 5:19
4. Do for Him Mt 25:40ff
Whose voice are we hearing? If we are not hearing His voice, check the path we are on.
THE LUKEWARM SHEEP
Now, for the sake of my illustration, I want to break a flock of sheep down into 3 groups.
1. The first group of sheep had DECIDED to look to Shepherd & follow Him wherever He leads.
These are the "Good sheep" who follow the "Good Shepherd. Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 KJV
2. The 2nd group wants nothing to do with the Shepherd. They want to run their lives their own way and they deliberately DECIDE to walk away from Him. These are the pagans and atheists of society. They don't want to hear Jesus' voice... they don't want to follow.
3. But the 3rd group DECIDES that they like the Shepherd. They want to hang out with Him... but they don't want to get TOO close to Him. They still want to keep their options open. They want to look for their own grass once in a while. They want to nibble at a little of this and a little of that....
George Orwell once observed: "On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."
That's the problem with this 3rd group of sheep.
They like being close to Jesus... just not too much, and not just all the time. And because they have this "loose" connection to the shepherd they're the ones who end up wandering off. They're the ones that end up getting lost. They're just close enough to the Shepherd to feel secure. And just far enough away to not hear His voice.
"My sheep hear my voice... and they follow me." says Jesus. John 10:27
And so, they wander off into their own little world, and they end up getting hurt and making bad decisions. And those bad decisions cause them pain and heartache.
As Proverbs 13:15 says, "...the way of transgressors is hard." (KJV)
Because they've chosen NOT to listen to the Good Shepherd and to follow Him closely, they are without the protection of that Shepherd and open to the attacks of Satan and this world.