There was a shepherd who kept himself invisible from his sheep because the sight of him was so horrifying, more horrifying than a wolf, as to kill the sheep that saw him. The invisible shepherd knew there were some among the wild sheep in the wilderness who
would join his fold if he went about it the right way. He took pity on these sheep because they were skinny and attacked by wolves, always arguing with eachother and lonely, but they did not believe that he existed because they could not see him. They did not dislike the shepherd—for someone that does not exist cannot be disliked—but they disliked the shepherd’s ewe lambs who insulted them for not believing the invisible shepherd existed, for staying in the wilderness instead. They thought all the tame sheep just congregated on an abandoned ranch that had no shepherd, and that somehow they took care of themselves. In fact, not all of the tame sheep on the ranch knew of the shepherd directly—certainly the ewe lambs did not know him—but believed the other sheep that he existed.
The invisible shepherd had one tame sheep who kept wandering off farther and farther because he did not trust the other tame sheep, least of all the ewe lambs, that the shepherd existed, and he wanted to be with those wild sheep, whom he considered very wise for doubting the shepherd’s existence. This sheep loved truth most of all. The shepherd did not want any of his beloved sheep to become wild, but he knew the sheep would keep wandering off until he learned for himself the difference between being a wild sheep and a tame sheep. He knew he would end up having to save the tame sheep and thought it would be good for the wild sheep to see him saving his tame sheep so that they would believe he existed and join his fold. Then he would feed them and protect them from wolves, and they would learn how to love and would not be lonely. So the invisible shepherd allowed this wandering sheep to go into the wilderness to be with the wild sheep.
After a while of having nothing to eat and being attacked by wolves and fighting with the wild sheep, the shepherd came looking for him, and the tame sheep gladly went home with him. The wild sheep saw the shepherd save the tame sheep, though they didn’t see the shepherd, and they believed that he existed, but the shepherd left them alone so they would not fear him. When the tame sheep was home, he missed the wild sheep and worried about them being hungry and lonely and attacked by wolves, and he wished they were with him and the shepherd. So he asked the shepherd if they could come live with them, and the shepherd, wanting this all along, said they could, but only if they wanted to. So he and the shepherd went and found the wild sheep, and those who wanted to go home with them began to follow them home, and some of the rest began to follow the wild sheep home, too, and they all had food and safety from the wolves, and they learned to love—even the ewe lambs—and were never lonely. The wild sheep who chose of their own free will to stay in the wilderness remained hungry, lonely, and attacked by wolves—but those who went home did not mourn for them, though they pitied them, for the wild sheep who remained in the wilderness were getting what they wanted—nothing more.
Some honest feedback. Hope you don't take offensive.
This fable of yours is flawed in several ways. The most glaring one is the obvious fact that sheep are raised for their wool and meat. They are tended by the shepherd only to be slaughtered. Are we just tame sheep to be used and slaughtered by the Lord as he sees fit?
At the very start you mention that the sight of the shepherd is so horrifying as to kill the sheep. I'm not sure how this metaphor really works (God is staying hidden because we can't bear to see him?). And how did the shepherd save the strayed sheep and the wild sheep “saw” that happening if he remained invisible or did not reveal his presence in any direct way? You may want to add some more detail here (as this is the crux of your story) like the strayed sheep coming under harm, calling for the shepherd and being saved etc… or may be something more subtle.
Your story talks about wild sheep who didn't believe in an invisible shepherd. I would appreciate if it also deals with “other” tame sheep which believed in a different invisible shepherd and thought that all the other sheep were misguided and your shepherd was a false shepherd. It is a much better representation of reality – after all, the wild sheep which didn't believe in any invisible shepherd are a tiny minority.
While your story may appeal to some christian believers, it won't convince any non-believers or other religious people. All the same, good luck to you.
PS: I personally would take my chances in the wild with the wolves (I assume they represent sin and other hazards?) rather then being tamed only to be slaughtered. BTW, some sins are delicious and if you are anyway going to end up dead/slaughtered, my motto is – enjoy while you still can :)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd, without anyone thinking that means he intends on selling our wool and serving us up for dinner. There are many passages throughout Scripture where visions of the Angel of the Lord have inspired terror, even fainting. Moses was only exposed to some of God's glory, and his face shone from it afterwards. God's fullness is mind-blowing. It is not what we are used to. Good point about the way the Shepherd saved the sheep not being obvious enough. I didn't know how to illustrate it, because the saving happens internally, with external 'fruit', and I didn't know how to put that into the metaphor. I figured those familiar with Christianity (even if they don't believe it) would just understand. That's also a very good point about the other sheep who follow other shepherds (it would be interesting to put those other shepherds into metaphor one day–thankyou so much for that great idea). Although you say this story would appeal to Christians, I wrote it with some atheist friends in mind, without ever actually saying, “Hey, I was thinking of you guys when I wrote this.” It wsa just something I needed to get out. The wolves represent what results when you reject the sort of love the Good Shepherd is, in favor of lesser pleasures. Today marks the day the Good Shepherd rose from the dead after he became the sacrificial lamb in our place. Happy Easter. Thanks again for your thoughts.