Sheldon wasn’t the smartest sheep in the fold. One winter, when it was abnormally cold, he had multiple troubles. First, he got an infection in his leg. To deal with it, he chewed on it profusely. The itching was horrible.
Now, partially injured, Sheldon got another bright idea: maybe it was a bit warmer up and over the hill ahead of the flock. And so, off he went. Sadly, though, few tried to stop him. In fact, the night he left, he thought he overheard one of the hired shepherds: “I told that dumb sheep to stay put,” the man said. “He should take my advice. I’m to busy to deal with such stupidity.” Sheldon overheard some of the other gentlemen grunt in agreement.
On his way now, it was interesting to him that none of the other sheep said anything. Actually, they were all too busy with their own cares. Sheldon assumed that it wouldn’t be too dangerous to leave. He could always return if needed.
When he got over the hill, it wasn’t as he had expected. There were ditches, briers, and other kinds of danger. But, maybe it was better just a little ways off, he thought. Boy, was he wrong. On his way, he got stuck in a brier patch. Then, he was chased by a wolf. And, he almost got bit by a snake. Interestingly, the only thing that saved him was a ditch. He fell in. Head first. Now, he had no way of getting back to the fold.
It’s not like it was all bad, though. It was fairly warm and he had some room to walk around. He even had some time to learn how to get upright when he rolled over on his back. Of course, this only happened because he tried to climb out about a dozen times. (He tried to see the positive side of things.)
His only hope now was for a shepherd to find him. But, he lost hope. He remembered what the hired shepherd had said. Sheldon assumed it was his responsibility to get out and get back to the fold.
What will happen to Sheldon. Only God knows.
To the reader, there is a lesson behind this story. If you are a Christian and part of a local church, consider it well. Have you ever met a Sheldon? Sadly, I have. And, I have been one. There is an epidemic in our churches. We all have sheep like this. And, sadly, we just watch this happen to them. They stray, injure themselves, are attacked by wolves, and more, while we just watch. Because much of these troubles are because of the sheep’s own stupidity, we think it’s their responsibility to fix it. We put the burden on them to get it right and get back to the fold.
This is bad Theology. Of course, each of us is accountable for our own trials and sins. As well, none of us can fix another –only God can do that. But, most of the time, the Sheldon Sheep understand his or her accountability before God. Usually, they do not blame others for the ditch they fell into. And, almost always, they have learned the consequence to their actions. But does that mean they are able to get back on their own strength? No. You see, there is a whole other side to the story: the responsibility of the shepherd and the other sheep. The Bible has a lot to say concerning this.
Even we who maybe have set out to rescue such individuals, often, we have the wrong mindset. We assume, that if we fail, then it was unwise and a waste of time. However, that is not necessarily failure. Some sheep take a lifetime and multiple rescue attempts. How many times do you think God tracked you down? What if God gave up on us like that? And, even if nothing works, at the very least, this individual saw the grace and mercy of God. And, if we were to consider the most extreme thing, even if the individual wasn’t a sheep and didn’t receive Jesus, our labor of love would be one of the testimonies against them on the day of judgement. There are innumerable reasons to seek out the lost, straying and wayward sheep.
We have a saying. (In reference to the Sheldon kind of sheep.) It goes like this…
Always do something; rarely do everything; but never do nothing