Romans 12:1-2 - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.
Ercan Ozer is a shepherd in the mountainous region of Muradive, Turkey.
Whether Ozer is a good shepherd or not, that I cannot say. I do know that today he has fewer sheep to take care of than he used to have. That is because, not so long ago, 80 of his sheep committed suicide. According to his telling, one of his flock decided it could fly. To test the theory, sheep number one walked off the side of the mountain.
The long and short of his story is this: he was wrong.
Amazingly, rather than learning from the mistake of sheep number one, a second sheep, sheep number two, followed the first. Sensing a pattern was developing, Ozer sprang into action and inserted himself between his flock and the cliff. Things happened very quickly after that.
In order: sheep number two also found out she could not stay airborne for any length of time. Even with their shepherd between them and open air, the flock continued to surge ahead. Like a river flowing around a rock most of the flock simply bypassed Ozer and stepped out into space and into sheep baaa-lhalla. As we said above, 80 sheep died, and Ozer found himself with a flock considerably diminished in size.
Years ago, I remember my father asking, "Ken, if everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do the same?" It was his way of telling me that I shouldn't be a blindly following sheep. Instead, he wanted me to do the right thing, the smart thing, even if that meant I wasn't going to be a card-carrying member of the flock.
It was good advice. Indeed, it is the kind of advice Christians should follow. I know it is good advice because in John 17, Jesus said, "I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."
Writing to the church in Rome, Paul rephrased Jesus and said it this way: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God."
And if you've been listening to your pastor on a Sunday morning, he has probably said it this way: "We are in the world, but we are not of the world."
Now let's make it simple. Christians have been rescued from the punishment of sin by the Savior, Jesus. When that happened, the Holy Spirit made changes in us. Those changes mean the world no longer dictates what we think and what we do and what we want.
Replacing that old-world view, we find our thoughts and actions centering on the Lord who has saved us at the cost of His own Son's life. True, we still are living with the things and the people of this world, but we will no longer follow them as they disobey and disregard the loving Lord.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we are people who live in this world, but no longer are of this world. Grant us the discernment to walk Your path rather than the world's superhighway to nowhere. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one carried by Strange Sounds on July 19, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: http://strangesounds.org/2017/07/80-sheep-commit-suicide-in-turkey-video-pictures.html
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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