Family

June 19, 2014

They Follow Me

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Written by: Duane Covrig
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One of the great temptations in life is to think you are the ultimate leader, you are in control of the ultimate outcomes, and to forget there is a God, and you are not Him. The other great temptation is to think you are not a leader, you don’t have ability to influence the outcomes of the world, and to forget that, though you are not God, you are created in the image of God, endowed with a power like God’s, to make things happen.

“My sheep hear my voice and they follow me” has become for me the cure for avoiding both extremes. That little phrase has rescued me so many times from passive aggressive behaviors that shirk responsibility and from avoiding the simple solution that following can bring to a standoff situation.  It helps me remember I have an identity that is ultimately one of weakness. Sheep are not exactly wolves or lions, prowling around in their own schemes to take over the world. But that identity forms in me a humility that saves me from the loneliness of the lion. It gives me strength because it reminds me of my community identity, with humans, but specifically with other Christians. It also gives me a stronger identity than any lion can ever have.

First, sheep naturally are inclined toward community. They are also socialized to flock. Flocks protect, and by remembering my weakness I am more eager to flock and in flocking have a strength I wouldn’t have otherwise.

There is a social aspect of humans that is amazing. We are wired biologically, starting from the male and female dynamic of our identity to be in community. This also shows up in the way we do complex communication and relationship. As we flock, we struggle together to understand who we are and where we are going, which further strengthens are core identity.

But being a flock is only a useful reality if also you have a shepherd, someone who is both “out there” protecting and planning but also close to tend to emergencies and crises. We have to follow the shepherd, to hear and understand His voice and this is where we have both a mix of group identity and individual identity. I must hear his voice, but I can also understand that voice by those in my flock who also follow him. In my weakness, I seek help and in that role, I am brought into community and community strengthens my ability to hear the voice of God…or at least it can strengthen my hearing of his voice.

So community is great for sheep but it is not enough. We need to hear the Shepherd for ourselves, but we hear together as well as individually. And from that tension of hearing, growth can occur. Growth is the secret of how the weak are made strong. We receive understanding about God in that dynamic tension of flocking and following His voice on our soul.

This is where Jesus in John 10 turns the metaphor inside out. A Good shepherd, He notes, lays down his life for His sheep. I can hear him say, “Unlike the kings you have been forced to serve, who rise to power and use power for their own good, I, as your master and Lord, lay myself at your feet to serve you as your slave and sacrifice.”

I have never met a animal herd owner who does that. They have herds for their wool and meat. And this is Jesus takes a different route than the world. This is a totally revolutionary leadership style . OUR shepherd is different. He lays down his life for others. Animal husbandry just got turned on its head, and so did leadership. God serves his people and out of that, all the social institutions of humans have or can be rescued. Family is about the Father who lays down his life to care for his wife and children. Religion is not about what God exacts from us, but what He can do to serve us better. Health care is about care given to bring healing. Economics is about abundant living that doesn’t shrivel up our world or shrivel up the masses for the sake of the few.

God rewrites what it means to flock together.“He that is great among you should serve like I do, and be the one laying down for those you serve.”Sheep are only safe as they follow a master and a master is only safe if he is laying down his life for the sheep. Thus is articulated the core dynamic engine of Christianity, the dynamic that makes up the trinity and the Church as the community of mutual submission.

In Chiastic power, John 10 gives us the climax of John’s gospel that was repeated  in John 19 and 20. As the Jesus lays down his life for his sheep, but then takes it back to care for the sheep. This new vision of leadership and community will always be at odds with false religion and false forms of leadership and false forms of moral government.

The greatest serve the lesser. They do NOT abuse their power, but use their power to make others better off. Fathers who Lord it over their wives and children and put their needs above their family show a different principle of leadership and community then Jesus did.

Herein is the moral engine and eternal dynamic success of Christ’s way: mutual love, mutual trust, and the engine of serving one another in mutual submission.Prevent that pattern from growing: by either building a God who has false intentions for sheep, or who is out only for His glory and success, and you have created the dead-end pattern of the kingdom of darkness.

Lord. Help me to hear your voice and follow you!

 

 

 

 

 

One of the great temptations in life is to think you are the ultimate leader, to think you are in control of the ultimate outcomes, and to forget there is a God, and you are not Him.

The other great temptation in life is to think you are not a leader, to think that you have no ability to influence the outcomes of the world, and to forget that, though you are not God, you are created in the image of God, endowed with a power like God’s, to make things happen.

“My sheep hear my voice and they follow me” has become for me the cure for avoiding both extremes. That little phrase has rescued me so many times from passive aggressive behaviors that shirk responsibility and from avoiding the simple solution that following can bring to a standoff situation.  It helps me remember I have an identity that us ultimately one of weakness—sheep are not exactly wolves or lions, prowling around in their own schemes to take over the world. But that identity forms in me a humility that saves me from the loneliness of the lion. It gives me strength because it reminds me of my community identity, with humans, but specifically with other Christians. It also gives me a stronger identity than any lion can ever have.

First, sheep naturally are inclined toward community. They are also socialized to flock. Flocks protect, and by remembering my weakness I am more eager to flock and in flocking have a strength I wouldn’t have otherwise.

There is a social aspect of humans that is amazing. We are wired biologically, starting from the male and female dynamic of our identity to be in community. This also shows up in the way we do complex communication and relationship. As we flock, we struggle together to understand who we are and where we are going, which further strengthens are core identity.

But being a flock is only a useful reality if also you have a shepherd, someone who is both “out there” protecting and planning but also close to tend to emergencies and crises. We have to follow the shepherd, to hear and understand His voice and this is where we have both a mix of group identity and individual identity. I must hear his voice, but I can also understand that voice by those in my flock who also follow him. In my weakness, I seek help and in that role, I am brought into community and community strengthens my ability to hear the voice of God…or at least it can strengthen my hearing of his voice.

So community is great for sheep but it is not enough. We need to hear the Shepherd for ourselves, but we hear together as well as individually.

And from that tension of hearing, growth can occur and growth is the secret of how the weak are made strong. We receive understanding about God in that dynamic tension of flocking and following His voice on our soul.

This is where Jesus in John 10 turns the metaphor inside out. A Good shepherd, He notes, lays down his life for His sheep. I can hear him say, “Unlike the kings you have been forced to serve, who rise to power and use power for their own good, I, as your master and Lord, lay myself at your feet to serve you as your slave and sacrifice.”

I have never met a animal herd owner who does that. They have herds for their wool and meat. And this is Jesus takes a different route than the world. This is a totally revolutionary leadership style . OUR shepherd is different. He lays down his life for others. Animal husbandry just got turned on its head, and so did leadership. God serves his people and out of that, all the social institutions of humans have or can be rescued. Family is about the Father who lays down his life to care for his wife and children. Religion is not about what God exacts from us, but what He can do to serve us better. Health care is about care given to bring healing. Economics is about abundant living that doesn’t shrivel up our world or shrivel up the masses for the sake of the few.

God rewrites what it means to flock together.

“He that is great among you should serve like I do, and be the one laying down for those you serve.”

Sheep are only safe as they follow a master and a master is only safe if he is laying down his life for the sheep. Thus is articulated the core dynamic engine of Christianity, the dynamic that makes up the trinity and the Church as the community of mutual submission.

In Chiastic power, John 10 gives us the climax of John’s gospel that will be repeated again in John 19 and 20 as the Jesus lays down his life for his sheep, but then immediately takes it back up to take care of the sheep.

This new vision of leadership and community will always be at odds with false religion and false forms of leadership and false forms of moral government.

The greatest serve the lesser. They do NOT abuse their power, but use their power to make others better off.

Fathers who Lord it over their wives and children and put their needs above their family show a different principle of leadership and community then Jesus did.

Herein is the moral engine and eternal dynamic success of Christ’s way: mutual love, mutual trust, and the engine of serving one another in mutual submission.

Prevent that pattern from growing: by either building a God who has false intentions for sheep, or who is out only for His glory and success, and you have created the dead-end pattern of the kingdom of darkness.

Lord. Help me to hear your voice and follow you!



About the Author

Duane Covrig
I teach leadership and ethics at Andrews University. I am a Seventh-day Adventist eager for the Second Coming of Christ and positive about His judgment hour work (Rev 14:6-12). I use that reality to understand morality and ethics.




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