Why Every Christian Needs to Be A Sheepdog
by J Warner Wallace
Jesus often referred to His followers as “sheep”. When he was saddened to see His people disheartened, the Gospels tell us “He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Those who hadn’t yet trusted Jesus were also described as sheep: Jesus said he “was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). When I first read the many “sheep” passages related to the teaching of Jesus, I was encouraged and inspired. In many ways, Jesus seemed to be talking like a police officer. Law Enforcement officials (like military officials) tend to divide the world into two distinct categories: “sheep” and “wolves”. Jesus also recognized this distinction. When commissioning His disciples to preach in neighboring communities, he told them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…” (Matthew 10:16). Jesus understood the distinctions and the dangers. In a similar way, police officers know there are those who prey and those who are preyed upon. As law enforcement personnel, we are charged to protect one from the other. In this pasture filled with sheep and wolves, we are sheepdogs. Now, as a Christian case maker, I’ve come to see the role
Christian apologists make in the Church. We are also sheepdogs, commissioned to help protect the sheep from those who seek to draw them away from the Shepherd. While I accept this responsibility happily, I’ve discovered an even greater opportunity. As a sheepdog (both from a law enforcement and Christian case making perspective), it’s my duty to create more sheepdogs.
The analogy related to sheep, sheepdogs and wolves is incredibly instructive. The innocence of sheep is easily understood, even by those who have never experienced them firsthand. Sheep are typically unable to defend themselves from predators and are far more likely to run than address a threat head-on. Worse yet, sheep are annoyed by the presence of sheepdogs who are constantly circling them, nipping at their heels and trying to herd them in one direction or another. Sheep don’t even usually know they have a need for protection; they are largely unaware of danger until it is too late. For this reason, they are usually impatient with the sheepdogs in their midst. Does this sound familiar? The Church is often equally unprepared to face the challenges presented by the culture (and equally unaware of the dangers). They can also view sheepdogs with hesitation; Christian “apologists” are much less popular than other speakers addressing simpler issues in the Church…
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