The safest place for a Christian to exist is in the midst of a church community. It’s always saddened me how quickly believers shift from church to church looking for a pastor who believes what they believe, people who look like they look, and an environment that is welcoming though not too intrusive. It has become increasingly common for Christians to leave the flock in pursuit of some idealized self. In essence, they attempt to shepherd their own soul while having the audacity to call it faith.
Sheep stink and they stand really close to each other. They don’t all look the same, but they all have similar inclinations. All sheep lack an ability to lead themselves anywhere safe. That’s why they need a shepherd, so they don’t go astray and get picked off by a wolf.
Without a flock, there can be no shepherd. Sure, a good shepherd will leave the ninety-nine to search for the missing one (Matthew 18:10-14), but the missing one originally belonged to a flock. They were not some solo or intentionally isolated sheep. They were lost. They strayed from the flock of God.
There is no thriving flock without a faithful shepherd. There is no content shepherd without a flock. The two must exist together.
Scripture refers to God’s people as sheep. If you are a follower of Christ, you are a sheep of His flock.
According to the Iowa Sheep Industry Association, “sheep are prey animals. It is flocking together in large groups that protect sheep from predators because predators will go after the outliers in the flock.” Don’t be an outlier. As Bob Tuttle, professor emeritus at Asbury Theological Seminary has regularly said, “if you get singled out, you get picked off.”
Staying Close to the Flock Means Staying Close to the Shepherd
Jesus is a shepherd, not a life coach. He’s not interested in developing you into the best version of you if you have zero interest in serving and belonging to his flock. It’s not about you. It’s not your story.
If a Christian truly wants to thrive, they must belong to a church community. The safest place for a Christian is square in the middle of a flock — a flock being led by the Good Shepherd, Jesus.
Stay close to the flock of God. You will be picked off if you wander. There are many hired hands who will run away when the wolf comes. Jesus said,
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”– John 10:11-13
In John 10, Jesus speaks of one flock and one shepherd. All who belong to him know his voice and follow it. If you’re not close to a flock, it’s doubtful you’re close to Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Stay close to Jesus. He leads his flock to safe pasture. If you follow him, you will undoubtedly belong to a flock of sheep. That’s just how it works. Don’t be afraid of belonging to a church community. The real threat is not about losing your autonomy but losing your very life to ravenous wolves.
Jesus wants to protect you. He’s wants you to belong to his flock.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”– John 10:14-16