"When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." - John13:12-17
Part Sheep – Part Shepherd
In the eighth letter of C.S. Lewis book the Screwtape Letters, the Screwtape character reminds us that “humans are half spirit and half animal.” I happened to be reading this letter, for our new Men’s group, the Knights of Ni, when I noted Leigh’s request for devotionals. It was interesting to me how this half-and-half perspective could also be interpreted, as it was in the scripture where Jesus reminds us that we are part sheep and part shepherd. As I thought about this more, I thought it would be helpful to think about what it means to be a good sheep and a good shepherd. Jesus asks us to be both, following his example.
A good sheep follows. Following is more active than we think it is. True following according to Webster’s dictionary is to pursue, to watch and listen closely, to seek to understand, to imitate and to obey. To follow demands new energy and new focus and intention. Who do you follow? In this world there are multiple distractions and as sheep we are easily drawn to the next shinny thing. We are easily captivated by the next sports star, super model, and billionaire. We are so busy building our virtual persona that we fail to take the time to reach out to the lonely and to help the friend or stranger in need. We spend our time following the next click on our screen and before we know it our time and energy is lost in the ether. Jesus is asking us to follow him instead.
In following Jesus, it is interesting to note that one definition is “to imitate.” He is asking for our attention as sheep and our intention as shepherds. Jesus is not asking us to sail into uncharted waters, he is asking us to follow his lead. He is setting an example for us. In asking us to follow Him is he seeking new action from us to imitate Him and to serve others. If he can lay down his heavy crown and pick up the shepherd’s crook to help lead and guide and serve another, then so can we. Jesus did not say it would be easy, he did not say we are one click away from paradise, because he knows paradise found in a click is not worth having. He is asking us to set aside the self-serving ways of the world and to serve one another.