They follow him because they recognize his voice. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about this passage.
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She grew up on a farm where her family raised livestock, including sheep. They know who feeds them, protects them, and cares for their needs. But what about newborn lambs?
My friend confirmed my suspicions. From birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the flock. Sheep get a bad rap for their flock mentality, but God created them with an instinct to stick together as a means of survival. That instinct allows the lambs to flourish. Even sheep that are introduced to a new flock will follow the other sheep until they too recognize the shepherd.
As disciple-makers, we help others learn to recognize the voice of our Savior.
The body of Christ is like that flock of sheep. We bring along non-believers and new believers, walk beside them, lead them, teach them, and always point them to Jesus. When a person becomes a new believer they often follow the examples of those who have impacted their lives the most: a pastor, small group leader, or the person who led them to Christ. The primary voice they seek is that of the shepherd. I gave my life to Christ when I was I heard the gospel at home and at church. And I had mature believers in my life who took the time to help me recognize my need for a Savior and showed me what it means to follow Jesus.
And with their lives and their words, they pointed me to the Good Shepherd.
Maybe you have a similar redemption story. At some point in your life, God sent someone with the life-changing message of the gospel and you began to follow Christ. If the gospel is to continue to spread to every person, each one of us must carry that message to others. We must walk alongside them, disciple them, and advocate an on-mission lifestyle so they will become disciple makers themselves.
When I think about my own spiritual journey, I imagine the course of a marathon race. I see myself running down the middle of a street flanked by thousands cheering me on and others running alongside. In the crowd, I see the faces of church leaders, Bible study teachers, co-workers, friends, and family members who have served as guides, encouragers, and lifelines on my journey.
No one matures as a disciple on their own. Examples are needed. Over the next few weeks, Cricket blossomed. Plenty of premium food put weight on her too thin frame and appropriate veterinary care brought her to peak health. It didn't help that Sable kept growling at Cricket either. A bit of 'sibling rivalry' there. Branches, actually! As Cricket grew more confident and less insecure, she became a wonderful house dog. She was happiest when she was close to me and became one of the sweetest, most eager to please dogs that I've ever had.
It didn't take long to find someone who appreciated Cricket's good looks, athletic abilities and fun personality. We met several potential families for Cricket. It is my job to select the one that will make the best match for a long term relationship. I feel confident that I did that with Cricket.
She sleeps at the foot of my bed every night and runs to the office to lay at my feet under the desk when I pour my morning cappuccino. It is such a joy to see this healthy, confident dog run and play with abandon and not a care in the world! She has even learned to ignore perceived 'threats' made by other dogs and not over-react defensively.
It is SO frustrating for me to see how lack of education, knee jerk reactions and listening to negative propaganda without investigating the TRUTH about a specific breed of dog can lead to legislation that will result in the deaths of hundreds of innocent dogs without protecting the citizens of the effected community. It will not keep the citizens of Caledonia or their canine companions any safer than they were last week. Don't take my word for it. Here's what the National Canine Research Counci l has to say on the subject, from a video tape posted on their website.
The National Canine Research Council, is an organization that is committed to preserving the human-canine bond.
They publish, underwrite, and reprint accurate, documented, reliable research to promote a better understanding of our relationship with dogs. The following is their view on "Responsible Pet Ownership Laws". As a society, we strive to create safe, humane communities that are good for people and good for pets. Responsible pet ownership laws help us to achieve these goals by requiring the humane care, custody and control of dogs by all dog owners.
Responsible pet ownership laws set acceptable and achievable standards of pet owner behavior, and then hold people to those standards. The standards should be agreed upon by all of the stakeholders in the community. A typical set of acceptable and achievable standards would include: 1. License your pet and provide permanent ID. Provide proper care, training and socialization of your pet.
Spay and neuter your pet if it is not part of a responsible breeding program.