S (Scripture):John 10:14 [Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd…”
O (Observation): The fact that Jesus states that other sheep belong to his fold can be simultaneously offensive and hopeful. The offense is to those who see Abraham as their ancestor (I.e. The Jewish leaders). The hopeful tone is to those Gentiles who believe in Jesus (and don’t share the “privilege” of being a descendant of Abraham).
Jesus seems to want his followers to know that his own commitment to them is greater than any part of their past or present circumstances. He is their shepherd now. And he is the one who admits all who wish to follow. No special ancestor required.
The Jewish leaders didn’t like that. The Gentile believers rejoiced.
A (Application): I’d say that the biggest reason for people leaving the Church is the Church itself. “You’re sitting in my pew.” “We’ve never done it that way before.” “That’s not how you do it.” We say these things to new folks, then watch them walk out the door and never come back.
Anybody who has been a part of a church long enough has seen or heard or felt these sentiments before. And these assaults wound people, deeply.
Jockeying for position is not required with God. In fact, that is shunned by God. But the world says, “Go get yours! You deserve it! You’ve never done anything really wrong.”
But God’s viewpoint doesn’t seem to run along the same standards as the world. Jesus doesn’t require a certain set of practices if they get in the way of the Gospel.
Some church practices are great: liturgy, the means of grace (Baptism and Communion), preaching, small groups, etc. But the Church can also get stuck in detrimental practices: only certain people taking leadership roles, no children allowed to lead worship, shunning those who have divorced or who are gay or lesbian.
We have to own the wrong we’ve done as the church and realize that Jesus is the Shepherd, not our long-standing traditions.
What traditions have you seen get in the way of the Gospel?
P (Prayer): Lord, we are grateful that you are the Shepherd. Amen.