Going Deeper 04.23.2021

The Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Easter... John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

There is only one way to perceive unity among Christians: "So there will be one flock, one shepherd."  Despite the great diversity among denominations, with a lot of existing disagreements about theology, style of worship, sacraments, how to do mission, and more, there is still the one point of commonality-- our Shepherd.  There is clearly great diversity within the flock, but we all are connected to one Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Sadly, the Church too often reflects the ways of the world (or vice versa sometimes?), where differences divide, and disagreements usually lead to animosity.  We might actually have a whole lot in common, but our attention is focused where we see, understand, and do things differently.  Instead of celebrating the uniqueness evident in all of God's creation, we arrogantly criticize and attack those who differ from us.

It does not need to be so!  There can be unity without uniformity.  In truth, there is unity without uniformity... we just need help perceiving that truth.  Our infinite Creator can relate to His children in a variety of ways, and His children can celebrate and live out that relationship in a variety of ways.  This means that diversity can be celebrated.  We can learn to respect those with whom we disagree, and in humility recognize that no one knows and understands everything perfectly.  We all have much to learn from one another.

When we focus on Jesus, we can indeed see ourselves as "one flock" with "one shepherd" with one mission... a mission we can fulfill much more effectively if we stop allowing differences to divide.

Together in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"