English is not a proud language. It has no shame in adding new words to its ever growing inventory of available units of communication. Each year the publishers of dictionaries include new words taken from current usage. One of this year’s additions is sheeple, a portmanteau of sheep and people. Once we say it, the meaning speaks for itself. We sheepishly follow the crowd. What’s trending on Facebook is an example of something catching the fancy of a few and then having millions follow. Fashions regularly produce the “emperor’s clothes” because thought leaders start something and the rest of us fear to be different.
1000 years before Jesus came to us David wrote Psalm 23. 800 years before Jesus, Isaiah noted in chapter 53, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Handel even included it in his famous oratorio The Messiah. In Matthew 9 we read, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Our sheepish behavior is nothing new. But how wonderful it is that Jesus not only understands, He has compassion on sheeple. One of His most familiar parables is about the one lost sheep and the shepherd going out to search for it.
Just as long as Jesus keeps loving sheeple I don’t mind being one. I could think of many worse things to be. Jesus said, “Follow me.” My response is gladly, because we know where He leads. Heaven will be full of sheeple. The challenge is to know who to follow. That is the main task of the Holy Spirit. He woos us, nudges us and sometimes shoves us in the right direction. Jesus said, “I am the way.” So come and join me. I’m a sheeple and you’re a sheeple and together we will be led home.