Friday, September 5, 2008

The Good Shepherd?

There is a story going around the Christian community. It gives me the shivers. I even heard it repeated on the local Christian radio station. It is a story about a shepherd that broke the legs of his lamb in order to keep the sheep from straying away.
I found this version on the Internet:

"I guess you've heard the story of the shepherd that broke his sheep's leg one time. Many little stories has been told about it. And was asked this shepherd, "Did the sheep fall off of a mountain and do this?"He said, "No."Said, "What happened?"He said, "I broke its leg."Said, "Why did you break its leg? Are you a cruel shepherd?"He said, "No, I love the sheep. But the sheep got to running away from me. And he kept straying out to itself. And I know the nature of sheep. And I know if they stray too far away, the wolf will get them. So I had to break the sheep's leg to keep it with me, to draw it to my bosom, to give it a little special food. And I'll be so kind to it, that when its leg gets well, it'll never leave me any more."

This does NOT come from the Bible. As far as I can tell, it comes from a sermon delivered by Brother William Marrion Branham called 'The Good Shepherd Of The Sheep', delivered on March 8, 1957.

Why does this awful story perpetuate? It is not biblically based. I can't find anything in scripture that would even hint that this is in God's nature.

Here ARE some scriptures from the Bible:

...and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his sheep by name, and leadeth them out. John 10:3

So God leads us out, he doesn't break our leg.

Here is admonition from the Lord to the leaders of Israel:

The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them (Ezekiel 34:4)
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

It shows God's nature. He doesn't want people to be ruled with force or cruelty.

And probably the best example of God's nature straight from Jesus himself:

And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:3-7).

Uh... no where in this story does it say that God broke the legs of the sheep that strayed.

God doesn't put bad things on us to teach us a lesson. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. They are a result of either an attack of the enemy or because of sin in our life. We wouldn't go out driving drunk and injure someone and say that God did this to us. No! It was a result of our own sin. We can ask for God's forgiveness and his help in these situations but we must be prepared to face the consequences of our choice.
God has been merciful to me in my life. I have made really tragic choices and gotten out of God's will for my life. I had to ask for God's forgiveness. I had to repent and turn my back on sin. The consequences could have been devastating. God has helped me to bear those consequences that I did experience.


Keisha Coconut said...

Amen ! This post is a breath of fresh air. I have never heard or read about that so-called good shepherd but I have had more than enough of people attributing things to God that simply are NOT God or His nature.
I don't think people realize how perverse, misleading and dangerous it is to say such things.
That particular story contradicts that God gives us free will. Breaking someone's legs in order to make them stay because you "love" them so much and want to "protect" them sounds like pretty much every abusers reasoning I've ever heard. And my God is NOT an abusive God ! At the end of 06 a dear friend's boyfriend of 17 years murdered her and and 4 of their 6 children then himself. The message he left stated that he did it for them because they were suffering.
I rhetorically ask, is that love ?
I pray that people are more careful with the things they pass on as "heart-warming". I know some people just choose "forward to all" without a thought, but the wrong messages are being conveyed about our faith and about who our God is.

Frazzled Mom said...

Keisha - thanks for your comment. I was sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I hadn't thought about it portraying God as abusive, but you are definitely right. Who wants to serve a God like that? I wouldn't and I don't. I forgot to say in my post that I went to the hospital with a friend who's son had to have surgery to help correct a birth defect. She told him that he was this way because God was trying to teach him something. She told him that "Shepherd" story and I almost had a panic attack. At another time he was doing something he shouldn't have and broke his arm. She tried to tell him again that it was God trying to teach him something. I couldn't keep silent and corrected her that this was the consquences of her son being foolish.

Lindylou said...

This is unbelievably so insightful! I have heard this story and it has been in a recent children's easter book sold in Christian bookstores.

You are so right, that this is not God's nature. God will use all of our pain and hurts for our good but He never causes them.

We cause it by sinning or it is committed against us by sinning people or it is a result of living in a fallen world with a decaying body.

Thank you so much!

Keisha Coconut said...

Thanks. I was relaying your post to someone and they got a little defensive. They said that you only think this because you don't know the history of what shepherds do/did and that is what they did to sheep. I explained that despite that (possibly) being a matter of fact that actual shepherds break lambs legs in order to keep them, it is not a fact about God. I find that scenario quite scary. Perhaps people could/would see things differently if they heard that some parents broke their child's legs for wandering away at the store. Would it should beautiful and endearing then ?
Although I am nowhere near close to being like God I try to parent my children as he parents me; with grace, compassion, mercy and gentleness (but boy do I err sometimes). I pray that more people come to the realization that the things that occur are as you stated, the result of a fallen world or even satan's attack. *Sigh* This is why we must always search the scriptures rather than just latch on to something because we think it sounds good.

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Frazzled Mom said...

Keisha - check out this website.. apparently I'm not the only one that questioned the truth of this story

Frazzled Mom said...

I do not post anonymous comments.


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