Adam Hamilton preached a sermon about "Who's In Your Herd?" He used a video I will use Sunday showing the value of the people we associate with.
So ... who's in YOUR herd? Are the people you are hanging out with beneficial to you? Do they have your interest at heart or are they out for themselves? I often counsel people who tell me all the bad things going on around them. They describe people who are toxic and damaging to their Christian walk and to their physical/spiritual/emotional health. And they can be anyone. They can be family members. They can be so-called friends. They can be work associates. Who's in YOUR herd?
Jesus hung out with 12 disciples and another larger group of followers that included secret friends like Nicodemus (who helped with burial arrangements for Jesus), women like Julia (who seemed to be present in almost every major event of Jesus' adult life) and what is thought to be about 90 people. This was Jesus' inner circle (just outside the close relationship with the 12). This was Jesus' herd.
The crowds that followed Jesus were not part of the herd. They were often spoken of negatively with Jesus using phrases like "an evil and adulterous generation," "seeking signs and wonders," "not true children of Abraham" (because they lacked Abraham's faith) and "standing off at a distance."
As I read and reflect on Jesus' herd I wonder if we seek to create herds and congregations that meet our convenience rather than Jesus' purpose. Our herd should nurture (bear each others burdens). Our herd should protect (take care of God's garden). Our herd should be known for its resemblance of Jesus ("they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus" [Acts 4:13]). Ask yourself a few questions ... does your herd challenge you? ... does your heard cause you to grow in Christ? ... does your heard seek you when you are lost? ... does your herd enjoy fellowship and breaking bread together?. These are attributes of healthy Christian herds. Who's in your herd?