Let’s cut the crap. I don’t like being open. At all. I hate it like the Hulk hates Loki. I don’t like being accountable to anyone. None of it is easy for me.
In my most private and honest moments, I fancy myself as a rock, strong against all tides and trials. Or a lighthouse, set apart from the world, built intentionally amongst dangerous forces, a light pushing against the dark, a fortress unto myself, lacking in nothing.
I want to be Adam with all of his ribs, before the snake and the woman and the unfortunate choice in fruit snacks.
My life would be easier with only me to answer to.
Then I remembered why Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21). Because I’m a sheep.
That comparison hits home with me because I used to raise sheep as a teenager. I showed them at the county fair, even won a few ribbons.
Sheep are sweet animals. And by “sweet”, I mean “bag-of-hammers stupid”. The only thing you can train a sheep to do is stand still. They don’t sit up, fetch, catch, or heel. The only time they play dead is when they’re actually dead. They don’t inspire great works of art, movies, or TV shows; the only place you can watch a movie or reality show called “The Sheep Whisperer” is on a website that will make your X3watch software absolutely lose its mind.
They run neither fast nor well, which explains why they don’t have ancient bloodlines that breeders pay millions for. You certainly don’t keep them as indoor pets unless you like replacing carpet every 17 minutes.
And if you happen to be in the same pasture as the ram and turn your back on him, he becomes a 200-pound woolen cruise missile that drops you face-first into a pile of his poop, then thinks you’re his soulmate and tries to do all manner of nastiness to you, because, you know…BAG O’ HAMMERS.
Sheep need a fence – a way to protect themselves against themselves because they will run headlong into traffic/sharp objects/dull objects/bodies of water/(insert life-ending hazard here) without a hedge of protection. They don’t like it. They will push against it at times. Which is exactly why they need it. And exactly why we need Jesus, His Word, His wisdom, His sacrifice, His love, His perspective, His spirit.
Sheep need other sheep. For all their shortcomings, sheep are hard-wired to know that a stray sheep is a few minutes away from becoming lunch.
Like them, we stick our nose into the dirt and fall in love with the dirty pretty things of this world. We clutch them tightly in the night and stubbornly refuse to scrape the mess from under our fingernails when morning comes and conscience comes calling. We can’t avoid their pull on our own. We will follow them to destruction when left to ourselves. Which is why we need others to keep us from wandering into the dark corners of our life and heart.
There is only one true Rock, one true Light, sent to save me from death and darkness. I will fall into both when left to fend for myself. May the sin that befell the first Adam, and that stalks me today, be nailed to the cross the last Adam carried in my place.
For more about leading an open and accountable life, be sure to check out XXXchurch.com founder Craig Gross’ new book: “Open”, available here.