It was a great day at church. Good worship. A strong word from prospective (CP) church planting partners. Then an afternoon training and great time in D-Groups reviewing and growing in understanding the principle of God’s unrelenting pursuit of rebellious sinners (me).
After this glorious but long day…I was clearing out email…and there it was. An unsolicited epistle, a message from someone not connected to the fellowship…sharing how I had been an offense to them a couple of years ago. Sheep Bite.
No longer are my thoughts on the glorious day I had just experienced. I’m now labored over the complaints, the appropriate response, my own need to justify and respond line by ever-loving line. Sheep bite…and they’re not even my sheep.
Sometimes sheep bite because as a “shepherd,” you get close to a nerve. I once had a dog that had a leg that had been surgically repaired. It was tender. If I touched it too hard or got too close to the bad nerves, she’d turn to bite. It wasn’t that my dog was mean or aggressive. It was that the spot was tender. That’s totally different than if a dog (or in this case, a sheep) runs up to ambush you. The former demands understanding. The second “deserves” a defensive posture. People are sheep. Sometimes sheep bite…not always, but sometimes. It hurts. It is not good. We may want (and can even justify) a retaliatory response. We may start to devise a new recipe for “mutton.” Then it hits me…the reminder from the Lord…Those are His sheep that I am considering barbequeing! I’d never want to take out my Lord’s sheep, even those that bite me…because they are His.
The Lord corrected me. He reminded me that I am a shepherd and He owns the flock. I cannot destroy a sheep for biting me since I do not own the sheep. Well who will take care of this rogue, biting sheep assaulting the unsuspecting shepherd? Obviously not me, and here are three reasons why:
- One, I was a biting sheep and the Lord pursued me relentlessly and saved me while in active rebellion against Him. He pursued me!
- Two, God’s Word forbids it. “Do not let kindness (loyalty/loyal love) and truth (faithfulness) leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Prov 3:3). I am not responsible for driveby emails, but I am responsible for maintaining my “loyal love” for the SAVIOR that relentlessly pursued me. He can deal with His own sheep. My allegiance and response is to Him.
- Three, I need not be concerned with whether my rights have been violated or if my heart needs to be justified in the matter. I have no rights! I was relentlessly pursued by a great Savior that I bit all the time (and unfortunately still do…to my shame)! He is in the business of rescuing biting sheep! If He rescues another biter…and they bite me…it is up to Him to deal with that. The Lord will be my confidence and He alone can insure that I not be overtaken.” (Prov 3:25-26).
“Pastor (you might ask), aren’t you concerned that someone may read this and become more concerned with what was said or who said what?”
Actually, I was concerned about that. I’ve taken a number of steps to try to keep the details to a minimum so I could push the focus to what God is teaching me…so that, maybe, I can encourage/instruct others with the teaching (Psalm 51:13). What I KNOW to be true…”It’s Monday” and there are a number of shepherds being bitten today. Some, because they got too close to a nerve. Some, because they were ambushed. Before reacting with the emotion that was driving me, take your thoughts captive. Do so by focusing on the relentless pursuit of God’s love for you. Then tell the Great Shepherd. He has your back. He knows what it is to be bitten. He’s endured your bites and mine for years.