"Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3)This sounds great until you pay attention to the word "sheep."
Don't get me wrong. It's great that we're His. And in the Bible sheep are clearly seen as very valuable and occasionally as more pet than livestock (there's a definite emotional attachment at times).
But sheep are also dumb. And they are completely dependent on a benevolent caretaker. When we embrace the image of Christ as our "shepherd," are we implicitly accepting this characterization? We really can't deny that this is a pretty good description of Christians.
There is one more way sheep are depicted in the Bible: they're useful. But it's not a warm, fuzzy usefulness. Sheep are sheered, they're eaten, and occasionally sacrificed.
We can't get away from this concept. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves" (Matt 10:16). "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered" (Rom 8:36). Just as Christ was "led like a sheep to the slaughter," we may find our lives are required for the sake of the kingdom in one form or another.
Our good Shepherd will cherish us, provide for us, lead us, and protect us -- until it is time for us to be mistreated, beaten, maybe killed for His sake. But then, "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master" (Matt 10:24).
We are the sheep of His pasture, and we should be glad to be -- proud to be -- His. But let's not forget exactly what it means to be His sheep.