A Shepherd That Leads
RECENTLY the New Testament image of Christ Jesus as a shepherd with his flock caught my attention. One special aspect that struck me as I read the parable in John's Gospel is where Jesus says that the rightful shepherd "entereth in by the door to where the sheep are, and "leadeth them out.He leads them out! These days the idea seems to be to get behind the flock, see which way they're heading (via opinion polls?), and then hurry in that direction! Real leadership, of course, isn't a matter of finding out what the conventional thought is, then going along with it. We need to follow something higher. We need the real leadership provided by our "good shepherd, Christ, Truth. Think how Jesus illustrated this Christly leadership. Virtually all that he said and did ran counter to popular opinio n. But his words had the spiritual power to break through conventional concepts. John's Gospel records, for example, that officers sent to take custody of Jesus returned without him, saying, "Never man spake like this man. True leadership provided by Christ has its source in God. So, Christ shepherds us with spiritual wisdom and love. Even the most intimidating, complex questions in our lives find answers when we seek guidance from all-knowing God. As we pray and listen wholeheartedly for God's Word, Christ lifts our thought to understand more of what is already true about us as God's child. This helps us know what to do, which turn to take. Christ leads by speaking to us in terms of wise, loving thought which, as we listen, gives us clear direction. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness. What Christ says about God, man, and our own lives never simply follows human convention, however. What Christ says comes from the perfection of God's being and tells us--in ways just right for us at that moment--of God's real nature. God, Spirit, can't be seen or understood by the physical senses or the human intellect. Because the man God creates is spiritual, in reality you and I--along with everyone else--depend on God alone. God gives man everything. So we should be looking to God for everything tha t's necessary in our lives. And this is especially true when it comes to the spiritual ideas we need to learn and know. Materialism tries to manipulate us all to think in the same old tired ways. There is nothing of real value or substance in these ways. Prayer helps us to distinguish between the God-sent thoughts that are leading us toward Him (even if the path seems unconventional!) and the push of the materialistic thinking that would separate us from Him. If it is truly Christly thought that is leading us, we'll have the courage and strength we need to go forward even though the way may be challenging. It's not necessarily easy where Christ leads, but the rewards are sure. And when Christ leads, we need not be concerned over whether others are doing the same thing. The book of Isaiah promises, "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. If we listen wholeheartedly, we can expect to hear God's guidance as if it were spoken directly to us. And we can confidently follow His leading.