Updated: May 26, 2021
As a farm family, every summer found us participating in fairs. The work that went into getting ready for these fairs wasn’t easy, but the lessons learned by our children in regards to responsibility, hard work, fairness, and gracious “sportsmanship” were worth every bit of the work and more. The most important lesson of all was the lesson of authenticity.
It was always obvious which kids were there showing livestock (sheep, cattle, etc.) that best represented the attributes of the particular animal (aka working animals) versus which kids were there showing animals they raised specifically and solely for the purpose of bringing to the fair.
We were in group number one, or as I always said, “We show sheep, but we don’t have show sheep.” In other words, our sheep weren’t babied, fed special feeds, painted to cover up coat “imperfections,” and other such tactics. Not our sheep. Our sheep were fed the same thing the rest of the flock always ate, and they were washed with baby shampoo or dish soap before going on the trailer. That’s all.
Did the “show sheep” look nicer? Sometimes. Did the “show sheep” act better for the judges? Not normally. You see, the way the sheep react in the ring is largely dependent on how much trust they have in the one leading them. In our case, this was almost never a problem. But for the children who didn’t regularly tend to their sheep, it was a problem, because of the lack of trust the sheep had in the one leading them. Did the “show sheep” win out over the sheep we merely brought out of the flock to show? Sometimes. It depended on the judges and what they were looking for.
So…what in the world could this possibly have to do with living the life God calls us to live? So glad you asked.
In spite of the fact that we are proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ, we are often guilty of putting on a show for others. We fall prey to society’s demands to look and act a certain way and to pursue a certain standard of living instead of being content to be a neat and clean representation of the “flock.” Or maybe we say all the right words, words like “holy,” “righteousness,” “service,” “accountability group,” “born again,” and “fellowship,” but are ignorant to what the Word of God really has to say on the subject of sin, salvation, grace, faith, and obedience. Or maybe you make sure you go to church every Sunday (and maybe even midweek services), put a few dollars in the offering plate, donate canned goods each Christmas, and listen to Christian radio stations—you know; all the things people can see that will make them think you are a Christian. But at home, you and your husband don’t speak, your children are rebellious and disobedient, and you are successfully (for now) keeping your gambling habit a secret.
God doesn’t want “show sheep.” He wants sheep he can trust to present themselves as true representatives of the Church. He wants sheep who will trust the Good Shepherd to lead them through life for the purpose of being light and salt to a fallen world.
Be careful not to be a Christian in name only, because it sounds and looks good. Don’t worry about covering up your flaws and imperfections. Let God show you how beautiful these things can be when he is allowed to use them for his kingdom’s work. Don’t try to survive on a diet of material possessions to make life shinier and more appealing. Instead, trust in the Lord to make you content in him.
Be real. Be genuine. Be authentic.
Be salt and light,