Lost & Found 2 — Getting Lost
Updated: May 24, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:4-7)
We’ve seen in the last article some similar learning points we can draw from all three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Lost Son.
Today, we shall focus on The Lost Sheep, and learn a few things about getting lost.
Contrary to popular belief, sheep are not dumb creatures. Research shows that they’re just below pigs in intelligence, but on par with dogs and cattle. They’re able to recognise individual human and sheep faces, and remember them for years. They have social structures too; they’re able to build friendships and stand up for each other in fights.
One very interesting trait about sheep is how strongly they follow the flock. They will follow the flock, even to dangerous places. There are a few recorded accounts when hundreds of sheep have followed their leaders off steep cliffs, to their death. This is one reason why people mistakenly think that sheep are dumb.
But haven’t we all seen highly intelligent people do stupid things too? We see that in politics, where well-educated people follow terrible leaders. We see that on social media, where smart people follow silly trends. Most sadly, we see that in Christendom too, where intelligent and even good-hearted people blindly follow false teachers.
Herd mentality may start silly and harmless trends like Pokemon Go and Baby Shark. Or it may even cause dangerous riots and fatal wars. But worst of all is the unquestioning acceptance of false doctrines; the consequence is worst than death, it is eternal damnation.
The majority is not always right, and trends are not always worth following. We seek safety in numbers, but sometimes end up with a false security. Do you follow the crowd, or do you follow Christ?
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Individual sheep can get lost, but so do huge flocks. We must follow the Shepherd.
We’ve discussed how dangerous herd mentality can be, but that’s not in any way a criticism of the importance and power of unity. As long as the dominant sheep doesn’t lead the others off a cliff, the flock helps and protects the sheep in many ways. And the flock is even safer, when it follows the shepherd.
It is actually not easy for a sheep to get lost when there are a few hundred others constantly bleating nearby. Sheep are hard-wired to follow the flock too. So how do sheep get lost? This may happen when they’re attacked by predators, and they get scattered while fleeing. External threats, catching the sheep unprepared, are what separates them from the flock.
A healthy church is made up of a community of believers who are devoted to following our Shepherd — Jesus Christ. There’s so much that the church can do to help and protect us. But external threats can separate us from our flock. We may face persecutions, loss of loved ones, retrenchments, arguments, breakups, betrayals, and more.
But the Devil may not always come with horns and a pitchfork; after all, he wears Prada too. Very often, threats come in less overtly menacing forms. A job promotion with longer hours can threaten our spiritual life more than the loss of a job. Success and accomplishments can distract us more than problems do. Threats aren’t always obvious; they may not look dangerous, but desirable.
Whether threats appear as obstacles or attractions, they may pull us away from our flock, to our detriment. And we know what happens when a sheep leaves the flock, it easily falls prey to a predator. It gets devoured.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
We need to stay with our flock, as it follows our Shepherd. And if we do get lost, let’s watch out for our Shepherd. He will come looking for us.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.