God’s Word frequently reminds us that we are like straying sheep. Peter mentions it in his first letter in connection with repentance.
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25, ESV)
Peter is referencing Isaiah’s song about the suffering servant.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned–every one–to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:6, ESV)
What it means to stray is to go our own way. We wander off and get lost because we forget the shepherd’s commandments (Psalm 119:17). We figure we know better, we don’t need to follow, so we do what is right in our own eyes. Not only are we mistaken, not only are we unprotected, we are sinning.
As a nation we are headed in a million different directions, most of them away from the Lord. We are headed toward economic cliffs and leading unborn children to slaughter. We are codifying the masculinizing of women and castrating the strength of men. We are straying and we’re trying to make new road signs so that we feel better about it.
In the church we do not faithfully follow our Shepherd. We do not submit like Christ, we do not suffer like Christ, we sin when we are sinned against unlike Christ. We need forgiveness for straying from His Word and from His example.
To fix our wandering, “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” He doesn’t just offer to lead us in a better direction, He gave Himself as an offering for our transgressions. Why? Because He is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. He knows us, loves us, and cares for us. He wants us to return and follow Him.