There is a song that our children sing in church. It goes:
I just wanna be a sheep, baa baa baa baa
I just wanna be a sheep baa baa baa baa
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
I just wanna be a sheep baa baa baa baa*
It’s a cute song and my boys love to sing it, especially because the other verses talk about what we don’t “wanna be”: a hypocrite (they’re just not hip with it), a Pharisee (‘cuz their not fair, you see), or a Sadducee (because they’re so sad, ya see).
I certainly don’t want to be a hypocrite (although I know I am sometimes) or the other things either, but I don’t know if I can stand up and shout I JUST WANNA BE A SHEEP! either.
Every time the image of Jesus as the Shepard and his followers as the sheep comes up, I cringe a little. I know. That sounds awful, and I feel a little awful writing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the pastoral imagery, the connotations that He keeps us safe with love and guidance, and I am even ok with the whole “follow” him thing. I want to follow Jesus and his teachings. I do. I am a big believer in love and kindness.
But I don’t think I want to be a sheep.
Sheep follow blindly. They don’t question. Sheep are dumb. Sheep are thoughtless.
When I think of people as sheep, I think of that popular insult on the internet: Sheeple. You know, those people who seem to believe (and follow) every “expert” they read on the internet. The ones who blindly follow “data” without following up on it themselves. Those who don’t vaccinate, or do vaccinate, or use baby wraps, or co-sleep, or don’t co-sleep or vote Democrat or Republican, or repost articles without ever doing their own fact-checking. People who jump on bandwagons simply by trusting that what people (and the internet) tell them is true.
I know, I know. Jesus is different.
He’s a different kind of shepard. He cares about us and won’t lead us down the wrong path.
I get that. I do. And there probably isn’t other imagery that the writers of the scriptures could have used to adequately describe the idea that Jesus will take care of us if we follow him.
But honestly, that is where my faith gets weak. I have no problem getting behind the teachings of Christ. Love your neighbor? You betcha (even though I fail often, I still believe in this)! Love is the greatest? Yes, sir! Don’t throw a rock unless you are free from sin? Standing ovation.
I even get the whole, “Katie? You have to trust me. I know what I’m doing.” I get that. I don’t always act like it, but I do believe it.
But “act like a sheep and just follow with no questions just blind faith?” I don’t think I can.
You see, I have lots of questions. If I was to be a sheep, I would be the bad sheep. I would be the one in the back saying, “where are we going? Will there be a snack because I’m hungry. What about a rest? Are we going to get a rest soon? My legs hurt. Hey, that tree is nice. Did you pick this way because of the nice view? Do you think this wool makes my butt look big? I think I need a shear.”
I would be relentless.
I know there are Christians out there who would tell me, “just be quiet. He will take care of it.” And I know in the Bible Jesus tells us not to worry. Birds don’t have to worry. Flowers don’t have to worry. And neither do we.
But I have questions. I have doubts. I mean, there have been some pretty terrible leaders who have told people just to trust them because they know what Jesus is all about and then those people drank some Kool-aid and well, let’s just say they didn’t end up in a green pasture.
I’m not comparing Jesus to those leaders. I’m saying those leaders thought they knew what Jesus wanted and they talked a bunch of sheep-like people into believing it too because sheep do as they are told. They think what they are told to think.
I can’t do that. I ask all the questions and have all the opinions.
“Listen, Shepard. Where do we go when we die? Why does it scare me so much? Is there a sheep heaven? Is it really like the book of Revelation says because honestly? That sounds weird. Why do good sheep fall down? Why do good sheep get made into stew and chops? Why are goats bad? Is it Ok if that goat is my friend? Because he plays a wicked guitar solo and I dig his sense of humor.”
Ok, so my questions and doubts are a little heavier that that, but you get the idea.
I can’t shut it off. I can’t stop being me with all my thinking and whatnot.
Sometimes I wish I could. I wish church would give us a little handbook that says, “Here are your opinions on all the things. Go forth and believe them no matter how anyone challenges them. DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT; JUST DO IT.”
But I know I would fail at faith if that was how it worked.
In fact, as a young adult, I thought that was how it worked and I thought I failed. I’m coming to find out now, that maybe I’m ok the way I am: full of questions, doubts, and opinions.
But is it Ok to not wanna be a sheep?
**googling free images of sheep will make you happy because sheep are rather cute, if not totally stupid.