Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – August 2021
By Pastor Lloyd Pulley
There is no question sheep are vulnerable animals and not incredibly bright! They wander off no matter how excellent the pasture is, and if enclosed by a fence, they will long for grass on the other side. Even the danger of a cliff will not deter them! With full fleece and muddied wool, a sheep fallen on its back will die, unable to right itself. One renegade sheep can lead a whole flock into grave danger, as they are very prone to follow. Neither do they have any natural defenses against predators. In short, they need a shepherd who cares for them, or else they will be in great danger.
In that we have been made by our Creator and yet have strayed in sin, unable to right ourselves, a famous passage in the Bible declares, "The Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23). The Psalmist shares the benefits of following God as his Shepherd. God can lead us by still waters and in green pastures because He knows our needs. Middle Eastern shepherds don't drive their flocks, but rather lead them as the sheep follow, trusting the shepherd's call. Once a tourist in Israel noticed this was not the case with one man using a stick to herd the sheep into a corral. "Wait, I thought shepherds led their sheep!" the tourist remarked. The tour guide quickly responded, "That's not the shepherd. That's the butcher." A true shepherd leads and influences by example, but a hireling or a butcher drives and seeks to control for their own benefit. Under the care of a shepherd, one is free to follow, but a hireling uses force. Jesus spoke of rulers exercising authority over people, but He came to serve and give His life as a payment for sin, rescuing His wandering sheep.
We know no amount of force can change the heart. But the influence of the Bible on America led each to respond to their own conscience. A society that inspires people to the highest motivations and gives them the freedom to act is a society following Jesus' example. Our very constitution was made for those able to be self-governed or, in other words, was made for a religious people. Being guided by biblical principles, America became one of the freest, most just, and prosperous nations on earth. But after decades of education, media, and government undermining religion, maligning our founding fathers, and revising our history, America is now in a vulnerable place. No more can we discuss differences freely and appeal to reason. Censoring, ostracizing, and canceling any "wrong view" is driving people to live as if "the government is our shepherd!"
The Bible inspires without force or constraint and appeals to history and reason to influence people to believe in God. But other shepherds are competing for the allegiance of each individual. Some human organization or government first must dismantle God's revealed truth and replace it with convenient "truths." When the government overreaches, it will become an alternative shepherd.
What does one make of the cultural changes in this generation? Forced experimental vaccinations on children and adults of childbearing age could become a disturbing trend. If someone chooses to get vaccinated, that is fine as their choice—vaccinations have been a huge blessing in the past. But how different are forced ones, ignoring God-given parental authority or individual rights? Also, redefining gender and sexualizing children at a young age despite parents' objections is of great concern. Ironically, officials tout "follow the science" in one instance while ignoring the science in another.
I believe the day will come when those who speak the truth in love, following the Lord as Shepherd, may be sacrificed on the altar of those blindly driven by the governmental shepherds. Progressive Christians are quick to quote Romans 13 or 1 Peter 2 referencing submission to government, but many are ignorant of what a constitutional republic is. Faithful citizenship in our system allows for the resistance of unjust laws which restrict religious freedoms and censor free speech. A good citizen should not just lay down personal rights. It is not selfish to fight for those rights! Those rights reflect the blood-bought freedom we have received, and we owe it to our children to pass on what we have received from our ancestors.
France has taken to the streets against forced vaccinations. America embarrassingly believes the highly-funded, well-crafted, and distorted narrative that most people are okay with forced vaccinations. That is simply not true! While companies and local officials softly say it is acceptable to trade your freedom for empty promises of protection, I am not convinced the best interests of families, rather than money, is at the forefront.
If you blindly trust the government, please realize the constitution anticipated the most significant threat in the future to our republic would be the government itself. That is why its writers gave us certain inalienable God-given rights. I must regard God's Word above all, and like a good American citizen, I cannot roll over for what appears to be tyranny and injustice. As a follower of the Good Shepherd, I must speak the truth in love.