Whether we use the analogy of a family or a flock, as we are today, it is important for us to realize there are important aspects to our part of being part of the flock. It is wonderful to realize GOD has placed us in this flock, that He is our Shepherd and is caring for us. But there is more to it than that.
Why are we in a flock rather than left to be alone?
We are part of a flock. We have been placed in a flock for many reasons, but one is for our protection. Sheep, by themselves, are a huge target for predators. They won’t last long in the wild by themselves.
GOD made us to be the same way. Some of us are more introverted than others and the introverted ones think they would like to be away from people, maybe even live in a cave! But the truth is that GOD made us to live in community. In the garden of Eden, it would have been a pleasure. There was no shame. There was no embarrassment. The stress of being with other people was not there. People were not broken by the effects of sin.
But after the Fall? What a different story!
Work was no longer pure joy. Relationships now had challenges because humans were broken. Community no longer came naturally. Words and actions were often misunderstood…or they were understood very well and feelings were hurt! Pride took over and apologies did not come easily. Resentment and anger tended to rule. And the response from many in the flock is to run! Many of us don’t like conflict. We don’t understand it and we don’t know what to do with it…so we run from it as fast as we can.
Often we hide in our caves of personal preference. This only makes us more vulnerable to a variety of predators. When we or our loved ones get ill or we face a time of suffering, we often have no flock to turn to for help. And we are prime for all manner of predators when that happens.
GOD had a reason for placing us in the Church. The place to grow in community is in the context of worship. As we pray, confess sin, praise GOD together, and listen to GOD’s Word preached. We also grow as we serve together in mission to those who don’t know Jesus and to those within the community of believers who are suffering.
In order to be prepared for hard times, what do we do?
We obey GOD when He tells us to be involved in community. He doesn’t say it will be easy. But in order to grow in our faith and ability to trust in Him, we need to be involved in a local church that believes the Bible and teaches it as truth both for the people in the church and for its leadership.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV