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Guiding the herd

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
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Have you ever watched sheepdogs work? It’s amazing. A large herd of sheep in a huge pasture scattered everywhere, munching on the grass. The shepherd gives a command and the dog springs into action, running so fast at times he’s hard to follow, circling the sheep, forcing them into a tight group, then maintaining that control as he drives them back to where they are corralled.

All of this is necessary because the sheep, left to their own devices, would contently just wonder around all night, munching on tasty grass, oblivious to the threat of hungry wolves who see them only as prey. Without the shepherd and his dog to give them direction, they simply follow the rest of the herd, ultimately ending up lost and a tasty snack for predators.

The propensity of humans to, like sheep, follow the crowd often gets us labeled as sheep. And it’s an apt description in the age of the Internet and social media. Some TikTok influencer will pitch a stupid and dangerous idea, and millions of folks will run with it, sometimes dying while doing what everyone else is doing. To be part of the group. To fit in.

Politics, of course, is the ultimate herd driven enterprise. We find a politician who tells us what we want to hear, choose up sides, and fight each other sometimes to the death to support that politician, blindly following someone who is being paid by the wolves.

More disturbingly, this herd mentality has reached into Christianity. Folks calling themselves Christian have decided that they are better off unmoored from the foundation of their professed religion, Jesus, and adopt a Pan-everything-ism, believing whatever makes them fit in with their social group. This distortion of Christianity is exacerbated by social media sorting people into more and more isolated groups.

Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament, is explicitly described as the shepherd that Christians should be following. Unfortunately, millions of people calling themselves Christian have exiled the shepherd and are following the sheep.

The herd demands absolute fealty to leaders who are clearly not Christian, ultimately resulting in cults of personality, with many self-proclaimed Christian pastors preaching from the pulpit to large congregations, that Donald Trump is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

If you are going to call yourself Christian, then read the New Testament. It is foundational and teaches clearly that Jesus is the only shepherd you should be following. And the NT teaches clearly what it means to follow Jesus and teaches explicitly that you can identify a Christian by their love and compassion for other people.

Calling yourself a Christian means something real. It’s not entertainment. It’s not a crowd of fools demanding fealty to some politician or celebrity. It’s an individual act of self-sacrifice, not a TikTok popularity contest.

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