Shepherds protect those entrusted to their protection.
In the film “American Sniper”, Chris Kyle’s father describes the three types of people in the world: the sheep, the wolves who prey on the sheep, and the sheep dogs who fight the wolves and protect the sheep. That story has spawned a generation of protectors who refer to themselves as a “Sheepdog”, along with a whole line of cool patches about it.
But, what does it really mean?
In the classic film The Patriot, after a stirring speech by young Anne, the Reverend joins the growing American rebellion. When challenged by a townsman, the Reverend replies with my favorite line from the movie: “A Shepherd must tend his flock…and at times…fight off the wolves.”
Reverend Oliver isn’t wrong. There comes a time when we all must decide what we are willing to do to protect those people and ideals that we care about. Each person has to make that decision for themselves.
Fortunately, around 2,000 years ago, Jesus gave us all guidance on what is means to be a Good Shepherd:
“The Good Shepherd
Lays down his life
For the sheep”
A true shepherd, a protector of the flock, would lay down their life to protect those entrusted to their care, willingly and without reservation.
Just as important, though, is what the verse doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that the shepherd throws his life away, it says “lays down his life”, implying a conscious decision.
That means making the decision that you will continue the fight, even if it takes your life, not just rashly throwing your life away. It’s a small distinction, that makes all the difference in the world.
Mindset is everything in a life or death struggle. Once you have made the decision to willingly lay down your life for something (even an ideal, such as individual liberty), any set back suddenly becomes a minor issue, rather than a limiting function.
In 1776, 55 men signed a document that concluded with these words:
“And for the support of this Declaration,
With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,
We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes,
And our sacred Honor.”
-Declaration of Independence
Those men were willing to lay down lives for the protection of the idea that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Can you image what the world would look like today if those men hadn’t made that decision, when they did?
What things are you willing to lay down your life for? Most of us would say family. The real question is would you lay down your life for an ideal, such as individual liberty? Jesus clearly did, since He laid down His life all of us.
Thousands of men willingly laid down their lives on a June morning in 1944 on a beach in Normandy that most had never heard of, to free people that they had never met, for the sake of an ideal.
A brave King and 300 of his men (yes, I know that truthfully there were more than that) willingly laid down their lives on another stretch of beach at Thermopylae to resist tyranny.
Being willing to die for something doesn’t mean you are seeking death, it simply means that you are willing to pay that price to see the ultimate goal accomplished. I think that is a worthwhile trait.
Too often in our modern society, we “go along to get along” and end up surrendering rights and freedoms, until we are beyond any hope of being able to resist.
This is even a problem in the preparedness community, because so many just focus on how they as a family unit will survive, rather than how a community and its values might survive.
I don’t have the answers, and you won’t find them here.
I am simply encouraging you to look inward, and make a decision today…Am I a Good Shepherd? What am I willing to lay my life down for?