Know that the LORD, he is God!

It is he who makes us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 100: 3

 

The fact that the writers of God’s Word used sheep and shepherds as images to describe the relationship that exists between humanity and our Creator is very interesting. There was certainly a component of convenience to this, for sheep were plentiful throughout the lands and the times of the Bible, and they provide numerous examples of relationships and engagement in them. Sheep are also known for possessing qualities that demand care and provision by a wise and knowledgeable keeper, the shepherd. Yet sheep have also gotten something of a bad reputation when it comes to some of the aspects of their nature and abilities. For one thing, sheep are considerably more intelligent than people often grant them credit for being, There is a documented case from Yorkshire in Great Britain where sheep defeat the metal grates in the road to get to the lush gardens beyond by laying down and rolling across the hoof guards. That does not seem to indicate a lack of brainpower. Sheep follow the leader and flock together in order to achieve the protection of many, and sheep will selectively eat the plants that they need to cure illness and to supplement their diets with something that is otherwise lacking.

 

It would seem that sheep are far more capable than we often grant them credit for being; yet, they still need a caretaker and they flounder and fail without someone to provide them with direction and a shepherd to define and guide their purpose. All of this would seem to create a good picture of how people interact with God. The Lord made us and gave us intelligence and capability to live and to thrive in this world. His creative handiwork is beautiful, complex, and complete, but it is not intended to grant to us everything that we need in order to live well and to travel through life successfully. We were created to dwell on this earth in relationship with each other and with God. People do not possess the ethical and the moral foundation for living righteously without the presence of God in our lives. Although we have the intelligence and the drive to devise those foundational structures for our societies, we lack the selfless guidance of eternal truth that is necessary for this work. On our own, we lack the care of the shepherd to set direction and tone for our lives.

 

God does this for us. He leads us along the paths of life in ways that take us out of our natural drive toward self-care and that leads us into engagement with others for their sakes. God provides His people with a greater understanding of what is right, loving, and care-giving than we would ever achieve on our own. He guides us along a path that leads to justice, peace, and the deep joy of the Lord’s presence. God grants to us a purpose that matches well to the needs of the pasture where we dwell. He values each person as a beloved child and as an important member of His flock. God’s Word feeds us, and we are sheltered under the covering of the Lord’s sovereignty over all of creation. As sheep, we are loved, cared for, and led into service to our Lord and to the world where He provides us with the pasture that we need to achieve His plans and purposes for the life that the Lord has granted to each of us.

 

 

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Know that the LORD, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 100: 3

 

Most people do not like the idea of being owned. I know that this is true for me; I may speak about submission and granting my allegiance to positions and to people with authority, but actually doing this is another matter. Yet, God’s position is far higher and His rights are much greater than any of these human and earthly leaders and institutions that seek and that even attempt to place demands upon my life. All power, authority, and mandates for loyalty that exist on earth are derived out of God’s willful establishment of them. Now people do corrupt the positions that they hold and governments are also known to exceed God’s mandate and to abuse their right to rule over us, and when this corruption turns the corner into the outworking of evil in our world, we have a responsibility to work against those evil purposes and to strive to see righteous thinking and actions implemented in place of that which defies God’s will.

 

Still, for a follower of Christ, all of life is to be conducted from the perspective of being a person who is the beloved possession of God As hard as it is for me to admit, I am not free, for God is my creator, and He has not relinquished the title to my body, mind, heart, and soul. This right of ownership and the authority that comes with it are complex things. God has chosen to design His relationships with people in this manner. He could have determined that we would follow His will out of compulsion and without the capability to make our own choices regarding entering into it, but the Lord granted us the ability and the capacity to make decisions about almost everything in our lives. God does desire for each of us to determine that we want to enter into a relationship with Him, and the Lord’s will is for us to order all of our lives under His Word of Truth and within the counsel of His Spirit.

 

When we choose to follow God by coming to Christ, we are giving away the right to go our own way in life whenever and however we might decide is best for us. We are accepting the fact that God has the best plan for all people’s lives and that He may set a course for me that is radically different that the one that I would pick on my own. However, God has promised that His way is the one that leads to peace in my heart, to satisfaction for my spirit, and to meaningful engagement for my mind. Sometimes these things are highly apparent to us and at other times they are obscure. In and through it all, we can count on the fact that we are loved fully by God and that His will for our lives is perfect and complete. We can dwell in the Lord’s pasture of blessing and graze on His bounty of truth, grace, and mercy. Christ is the gentle and loving master who guides me into the joy and the peace of service to His kingdom. So, I desire to be owned by Him.