Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Following the Herd

This could be a picture used in an advertisement for Chick-fil-a, but it was a real herd of cattle walking in a line across the top of a hillside on the island of Orkney.  I had to zoom in, but I like the way it made a cool picture.

It also made me think how frequently in life we tend to follow the herd -- to act and dress like our peers, especially in junior and senior high school where kids are so desperate to fit in with the kids they consider cool and popular.  Believe me, I have vivid memories of wanting to fit in as a teenager -- and just not quite hitting the mark.  I guess I felt sort of like that white cow in the photo above -- out of sync with what the other cattle are wearing and just not fitting in.

While that mentality is common in school, it can follow a person into later life as well.  Thankfully, I escaped that miserable prison when I graduated from high school and I've continued to gain confidence and grow as a person by not following the herd -- or at least not worrying about the fact that I might be "dressed" differently (as in the white cow above) than the others.  It's okay to be different -- as long as that uniqueness is from God and not just some attempt to be contrary.

When Jesus walked on the earth, He certainly didn't follow the herd.  He offered a picture of what life might look like when we follow close after God instead of the well-trodden path of most of humanity.  Jesus was not a status-quo, follow the herd kind of man.  His teachings and the way He lived His life made it plain that "religion," riches, good works, or status were not what God is looking for in His kingdom.  Indeed, Jesus said, The first shall be last and the last shall be first.  It is the heart God looks at, not the outward appearance.

Jesus made it relatively simple when he told us what is most important:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37.  Although Jesus directive is simple, it is not an easy path to follow.  His straight and narrow path is found far from the maddening crowd and herds milling down the broad path that the Bible says leads to destruction.

While cattle probably do need to follow the herd in most instances, we as humans need to forge our own paths in the will of God.  Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.  God's way is always the best way.

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