Of Sheepdogs and Christians
Yesterday I went out to the pasture to feed my horse Traveler a bucket of oats. Naturally, all the other animals came running to see me – goats ands cows alike. Suddenly, who should appear but our new Sheltie puppy, Sheba. Somehow she managed to skinny through the gate, and there she was in all her glory – gleefully barking and rounding up the goats, who were trying to run away.
When I told this story to my wife this morning, her commonsensical response was: “Well, Honey, I guess that’s why they call them sheepdogs.”
Looking back on more than a quarter century of preaching and teaching, the prevailing impression I have come to have of the contemporary church scene is of an ever-widening gap between the terms in which the Scriptures induce us to live and the reality of our existence as so-called “Christians.” There are many who claim they are not ashamed of their Lord but who are nevertheless ashamed of some things He said. They fail to obey them, practice them, stand for them in this modern day and age.
Here’s a question that begs an answer: Can you really call a Sheltie a “sheepdog” if it has never herded sheep or goats – if it has perhaps never even seen a sheep or a goat? Likewise: Can we call a person a “Christian” if he or she has never followed “Christ” in obedience? Jesus said some things about discipleship that never seemed to have registered with many church members. He has a great deal to say about loving one another, about forgiveness, about the way He wants to build His church, and above all about absolute loyalty to Him rather than, say, a denomination or a political party.
Jesus’ worldview is not very popular with this adulterous and sinful generation – at least with Christians who have never followed Christ. Today we need some teaching in our churches, in the very simplest language, on “Why do you pretend to be another?” (1 Kings 14:6). It is far too fashionable today to be two-faced and double-tongued, to call oneself a sheepdog, if you will, but have no desire for, no inkling about, herding sheep.
The New Testament, for the most part, was not written to unbelievers to warn them to get their act together. It was written to believers in Jesus Christ to warn them that a lot of sound orthodoxy may coexist with outright disobedience to God.
Am I a genuine Christian? Are you? There is no simpler way to prove it than to translate our doctrine into performance, and our position into practice.
April 5, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.