Month: December 2015

Goats and Sheep

Like any great piece of literature, as you read, it raises questions and makes you want to learn about the information that is not written to understand why it was written, that’s why we take classes, have book clubs, and participate in Bible studies. We are drawn to what is not there, not so much of secret or subliminal messages, but understanding what was said and why in its respective contexts, adding to the beauty and color, as well as deeper significance and meaning. On the other hand it opens up mysteries that the author wanted to hide,  demanding the reader or listener to seek out, which is often what we see in the parables Jesus told. Now there are many, but there is one in Matthew that has always baffled me.

Apart from the parable itself, I’ve heard it referenced in other settings and wondered what the difference is between goats and sheep. So I got the bright idea to look it up after reading it fairly recently in my devotion. If you aren’t familiar, long story short sheep go to Heaven and goats burn in Hell, but why? From the outside looking in, they are very similar in how they look and operate, maksheep-and-goatse similar sounds, and even move well together, but as you move past the surface you begin to see that they are quite opposite animals indeed. As I learned, it comes down to this one thing, sheep are dependent and goats are independent.

If you notice Christians are likened to sheep, just as much as Jesus to a lamb. Why? Because we follow. Every move a sheep makes is based on that of the shepherd, on whom it depends for everything. For example, the sheep rely on the shepherd fully for food and protection, and even if the destination is the slaughterhouse, the sheep will still follow to the end, just as Christ did for us. Thus, because sheep, Christ-followers, have made the choice to puSheep_and_goatt their dependence in God, placing their very life in the Shepherd’s hand, they receive Heaven’s reward. Okay, so what about the goat?

Generally speaking, goats can move with the sheep herd, but they aren’t followers. Instead, they tend to be stubborn at times and do whatever they want when they want, and we see people like this every day who have not surrendered their life [totally] to Christ for whatever reason, and desire to live how they choose and do what they want, good or bad. In the parable, the goats are the ones that burn. Whoa!

In our culture, the focus is often independence and doing what we feel, but the life of Christian is about dying to self daily. Still, even as a Christian we lose sight of that and fall into goat-like behaviors, depending on our own abilities, resources, talents, money, education, etc., when truthfully we should be living as if our very next breathe depends solely on God, because it does. Being you for a purpose means that every word, thought, and deed is guided and directed by the great Shepherd, the only one who is really worth following into a place of infinite possibilities, and the only way to Heaven.

Solomon

If my vote counted, I would say that he is one of the most prolific, yet practical writers in all of Scripture. His writings don’t really tell stories, but rather it’s as if he is having a heart to heart with his readers, well except for his books of songs which is more like him sharing the love letters between him and his lover. Anyhow, reading through the book of Ecclesiastes again, I don’t see as much of a paradox as I used to, but rather I see him coming for my life like no other book has, which is part of the reason I understand his quite large number of lady friends and acquaintances, but back to the matter at hand. I mean he really makes you question like everything about you life, even the people in it.

Really listening the heart of Solomon, we see how vastly different his philosophy of life is compared to the world’s philosophy today of humanism and happiness. Now, not that Solomon discredits that type of thinking, but he warns us about it. If pleasure and happiness and money are all we are after in this life, our life will count for nothing; it’s vain; it’s meaningless. Furthermore, with that type of life, there can never be any satisfaction, and if you look around, he was all the way right. What we see today are people indulging in what they find pleasure, living for self, and though they get a temporary smile, they are still left empty and broken and at some point come face to face with consequences they never imagined and a life ruined, and die and wake up in Hell because they didn’t recognize their need for a savior or make it to Heaven sad that they didn’t do more.

On the flip side, living for God and following His commands as Solomon described, should make up the most satisfying and invigorating life. Following Christ is not boring and mundane, because if you know His character, He is all about the element of surprise and astonishment, causing you to take those giant leaps of faith often times blindly, step out of your comfort zone, bring you into a place to face your fears, constantly molding, shaking, pressing, purging, breaking, and building you to be all He meant for you to be, and above all else develop a personal and ever-growing, ever-changing, deepening relationship with the One who created the universes with His very word and died to spend an eternity with you.

The treasure that the world seeks can in no way ever measure to what a life in the Lord has to offer and Solomon over time came to understand this. I mean after all He was stupid rich, indulged in any pleasure he desired, and literally had the world at his feet, but still found himself miserable, and one of his realizations was that things will come and go, everything has a season, but God is the only thing constant in life. Nevertheless, life should be an adventure with the people put in place by God to venture with and alongside of you as you do whatever it is that brings your soul satisfaction, not just work that provides a paycheck, but rather a passion or calling to the person fearfully and wonderfully formed by the Creator in your mother’s womb that gives you a life that money cannot buy, discovering and using the strengths and gifts divinely given to you.

So, live a life that means something for eternity, and if you have the opportunity to splurge or fulfill nonsense pleasures in the process, go for the gold, if not, Heaven’s glory will welcome you when your number is called. But still, it makes me think of a verse in Psalms and one in Matthew, reminding us to delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, and always to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. Follow Solomon’s candid approach in sharing what he learned, following the Lord and keeping His commandments, and get ready for the time of your life. Be you for eternity’s purpose.