United Church of Christ

Flock of Sheep or Pack of Wolves?

Jesus said, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” - Matthew 10:16a (NRSV)

When I was a child, I had a persistent daydream of being adopted by a pack of wolves. I loved the idea of romping all day in a forested meadow, and curling up all night in a warm puppy pack.

I never really thought that much about what it would be like to have a sheep family. I had it backwards, as it turns out.

The flocking instinct of sheep is so strong that, if there are no other sheep on hand, a single sheep will attempt to form a flock with any other animals around – ducks, pigs, even dreamy little girls. But wolves, I recently learned, will almost never accept another animal into their pack.

Childhood fantasies notwithstanding, Jesus calls us to be sheep instead of wolves. And having learned about their flocking instincts, I understand why. Samaritan women, fisherfolks, even tax collectors who collaborated with the oppressor – Jesus flocked with all kinds, not just with his own kind.

Jesus sends us into a world that says we should form packs only with those who look, talk, think, act, and pray the same way. He calls us to be part of unlikely flocks – and if we don’t have one, to form one, and to keep growing it. In other words, Jesus sends us out to be sheep in a world of wolves.

Prayer
Shepherd Jesus, we follow you, even if it seems ridiculous or impractical or dangerous, because we believe that through you is life. Amen.

dd-brownell.pngAbout the Author
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.

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