I think sheep get a bad wrap. On several occasions I have heard or read comments about how religious people are “sheeple” who blindly follow their leaders. I have often taken moments to stop and think—“do I fit into that stereotype?” A few days ago I was reading in John 10, and came across these scriptures:
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
I have read this passage before, but some things just stuck out when I read it…or maybe it was just a good memory refresher. I don’t think sheep follow blindly, or else they would follow the stranger just as much as the shepherd. They follow the shepherd because they know his voice and trust him. They know that safety and protection come when they are near him and follow him.
I found a great quote from R. Conrad Schultz, a Seventy:
One of the… ploys of the adversary is to have us believe that unquestioning obedience to the principles and commandments of God is blind obedience. His goal is to have us believe that we should be following our own worldly ways and selfish ambitions. This he does by persuading us that “blindly” following the prophets and obeying the commandments is not thinking for ourselves. He teaches that it is not intelligent to do something just because we are told to do so by a living prophet or by prophets who speak to us from the scriptures.
Our unquestioning obedience to the Lord’s commandments is not blind obedience. President Boyd K. Packer in the April conference of 1983 taught us about this: “Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God. … We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see” (“Agency and Control,” Ensign, May 1983, 66).
I have chosen to follow the Savior and his prophet, not blindly, but because I have grown to trust them. I hear the voice of the Spirit. I find happiness in this life and salvation in the next when I am near the Savior and strive to follow his commandments. I do not feel like I am “blindly” following anybody. I think those who are guilty of being blind followers are those who are following the moral decay and other trends prevalent in our world. I know who I am following and I have confidence in him. I hope to be able to continue to recognize and hear the Savior’s voice in my life.