When [the shepherd] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice ... I am the good shepherd.
--John 10:4, 11

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Bible Passages
Title Dumb as Sheep
Bible Passage John 10
Key Verse John 10:4, 11
Date April 15, 2000

Passage Summary
In this passage, Jesus tells the people about the good shepherd. He tells them how He will lead the sheep (US!) through the gate and will unite all the sheep in one flock. In our culture today, sheep can have a lot of negative connotations. One day my brother (who is a non-believer) asked me "Don't you think it's dumb that Christians think of themselves as sheep? Don't they know that sheep are really dumb and that they just follow around when they're told and don't have minds of their own or anything?" And - well - my friends are trying to start up a Christian band and they went to our local Christian bookstore to look up some good names (to inspire themselves of course) and they were thoroughly amazed to see one band called "Dumb as Sheep." They were also -- sad? -- that they didn't think of it first :) but that's another story. In any case, i realized at that point that Christians DO know all the negative associations that belong to the term "sheep." This is inherent in that band's name, but still Jesus calls us His sheep.

HOW DUMB ARE SHEEP ANYWAYS? In the example Jesus gives us in John 10, the sheep aren't all that dumb. What is beautiful about these sheep is that they KNOW the voice of the shepherd and follow HIM, but will not follow the stranger. And actually, today's key verse was not personally hand-picked by me as usual. Actually, it came up a couple of weeks back. As a small group of believers, two other friends and i came together to go through a book called "Experiencing God" and the key verses listed above were placed in that order in the workbook. And i looked at it and my eyes were opened! Because yes i'd heard the sheep example before and sure i'd read through John 10. But when i read it i thought "The sheep know his voice and follow him... and Jesus is that good shepherd" and i guess something clicked which had never clicked before.

Personal Applications
DUMBER THAN SHEEP? So it clicked into my head, if we are good sheep then we will recognize Jesus' voice and follow Him. i don't know if this is applicable to everybody, but certainly in my life i've had difficulty recognizing God's voice. "Is that God? Or is that Satan playing mind games? Or is that me pretending it's God because that's what i want Him to say? Or is that just me prompting me and it's not really God but it's good advice so maybe i should just do it?"
If i was dumb as a sheep i'd still be able to recognize my shepherd's voice. But being me, sometimes i'm not able to recognize and i get tricked or i second-guess myself. What struck us in that lesson in "Experiencing God" (by Henry T. Blackaby, Claud V. King, by the way) the most was that often we hear His voice, but we don't recognize it. Sometimes it'll be an excuse because we don't want to listen. Or sometimes we're just not in touch enough with God to know what's going on. In any case, when we're not able to recognize God's voice it's because we're separated from Him and that makes us dumber than sheep!

EXERCISING THE OLD UN-DUMB MUSCLES: Good thing for us, we're able to pull ourselves out and make ourselves just as equally dumb as sheep. woohoo! I guess the thing i learned was that we should really obey God if we love Him. (love brings trust. trust brings faith in His omniscience. faith and love bring obedience.) And so if that's true that we really love Him and want to obey Him - and the more we get used to listening to and for Him - the more able we will be to recognize His voice. Then we won't have to question all the time, but we'll be able to obey Him without question. And i guess... after all that... we will be just like sheep. We will follow where He leads us and we will know not to follow a stranger. Then everything will be for the best as God planned it. And if you ask me, that's not dumb at all.