"For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls."
(1 Peter 2:25)
Jody and I have had the pleasure of spending an entire month in England... twice! The majority of our time we spent up north in the Lake District. It's absolutely gorgeous there - mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, trees, rocks... and sheep. Lots of sheep. They're everywhere.
Now, having not grown up around sheep, I was surprised at how much "roaming" was a part of their "M.O." A sheep owner basically turns them loose in a particular section of his/her property, and the sheep move around freely over the entire area. And "move freely" is really more like an understatement! Eventually, they'd get rounded up to come in for the night or to move to a new area of the property.
The writer of 1 Peter likens our tendency as humans to stray from God's will to that of sheep. We wander. A lot! This revelation is nothing new. But the very next part of this revelation is that we have returned to Christ, "the shepherd and guardian of your souls." It's common to think of Jesus as "The Good Shepherd." That's a metaphor we've heard many times before. But what struck me today was the 2nd part - the guardian of our souls part.
For those outside the faith, I think there's a perception that God is this authority figure who metes out punishment from above. It's our job to "get in line" and straighten up. But the Bible paints a much different picture. It speaks of a God who searches for the lost. A God of infinite compassion & grace. A God who longs for our presence and company and is quick to forgive our sins. And now in 1 Peter 2, we're told this same God is the "guardian of our souls." Wow! The shepherd doesn't just feed the sheep & bring them in for the night. S/He also guards the sheep to keep them safe from those "outside forces" that are a danger to them. So it is with Christ! Think about the passion and commitment needed to be a "guardian." And to guard something as precious and sacred as a soul? Awesome! Why would I ever want to leave (or stray from) the One who loves me that much?