There was a certain sheep. He was not greatly unlike the others. But, one thing was clear: He knew, and obeyed, the Shepherd's voice. So the shepherd appointed him the bellwhether of His flock. (A bellwhether wears a bell and is known to be a good example in obeying the shepherd's commands. They are a type of shepherd in their own way because of their example in obedience.)
The bellwhether was becoming increasingly concerned, however, with his task. While he was trying to do the right thing by leading the other sheep towards the Shepherd in obedience, he realized the other sheep didn't know the shepherd's voice very well at all. In fact, they seemed to be getting less and less familiar with Him.
He called a meeting with the sheep to tell them how important it was that they also knew the Shepherd's voice. "Bravo!" They all cried out when he'd finished sharing his concerns. "You must do this more often! We didn't realize how far we'd gotten from our Shepherd." The bellwhether wanted to help. So, he started having the meetings weekly. But, things only got worse.
Now, the sheep wouldn't even respond at all to the Shepherd. After all, how could they be sure it was Him? They relied solely on the bellwhether to tell them in the weekly meeting if they were on the right track. He had a solution: He would make the other sheep break out into smaller groups and have meetings on their own without him. Surely then, they would begin to orient themselves to the Shepherd instead of him. But it only got worse.
Now, they were playing videos of his prior meetings with them and analyzing the things he had to say on a deeper level. All the while drowning out the Shepherd's voice all together with the volume of videos playing everywhere.
The bellwhether was at his whits end. He didn't know what to do, but he couldn't just leave them to fend for themselves. So, he kept holding his weekly meetings. And, so they didn't have to re-hash the same content in their own meetings, he began recording additional videos for the others to talk about when they were together. He rounded up a few other sheep who remembered what the Shepherd sounded like and used them to lighten his load a little. And, they kind of settled into a groove.
And then, it happened:
A pack of wolves snuck in one night while the sheep were dozing and drove the sheep in every direction. The sheep were scattered. The bellwhether was worried. But he soon learned he needn't be. The Shepherd was at work, rounding them up. The sheep were learning to hear the Shepherd's voice, again. They had to if they wanted to survive!
"The sheep are healthier than ever!" he would exclaim to any who asked. "I just can't wait until we can all get back together so I can start teaching them, again."
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:12-13