“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”- Matthew 10:16
In Chapter 6 of All the Places to Go, John Ortberg writes that the sheep is not an inspiring animal, so this is an unexpected metaphor. While many sports teams have animal nicknames, no team is called the Sheep.
Pastor Ortberg notes that Jesus’ metaphor raises this question: How does a sheep go among wolves? Answer: very carefully and very humbly. That means we don’t present ourselves as intelligent, strong, or impressive. When we are sent as sheep, doors are opened to us that never would be opened to wolves.
Going wholeheartedly through doors leaves us vulnerable to failure and disappointment. We’re vulnerable because we’re not strong enough. Paradoxically, with Jesus vulnerability is stronger than invulnerability.
John stresses that the church always is at its best when it goes into the world like sheep among wolves- with humility. Several centuries after Jesus, John Chrysostom wrote about the importance of being sheep:
“Let us then be ashamed, who do to the contrary, who set like wolves upon our enemies. For as long as we are sheep, we conquer. . . . But if we become wolves, we are worsted (defeated, overcome), for the help of our Shepherd departs from us; for he feeds not wolves, but sheep.”
Today’s question: Following your vocation loss, have you gone through open doors like a sheep or a wolf? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Wise as serpents”