March 13, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from a single verse, John 10:16.
“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
This was as shocking to Jesus’ listeners then as it is to us today. As Barclay writes, “One of the hardest things in the world to unlearn is exclusiveness. Once a people, or a section of a people, gets the idea that they are specially privileged, it is very difficult for them to accept that the privileges which they believed belonged to them and to them only are in fact open to all me.” I have trouble in being inclusive rather than exclusive. I like to think of myself as privileged, set apart from and above those I don’t want to associate with or be like. But Jesus says that every one of them is part of his flock that he shepherds.
As Jesus said in chapter 8, “I am the light of the world.” Not the light of the Jews or Israelites or any other particular group but the light of the entire world, all men and women. Sometimes I wonder if those of us who read the gospels give much thought to what Jesus is telling us. If so, how could it be that we kill one another or discriminate or in other ways separate ourselves from one another? That’s puzzled me since I was a kid and I used it as a rationale for not affiliating with any religious institution. Apparently, there are a lot of people who choose not to join any faith community for this reason. They see only the hypocrisy and are blind to the virtues.
Barclay believes, “The only possible unity for men is in their common sonship with God. In the world there is division between nation and nation; in the nation there is division between class and class. There can never be one nation; and there can never be one class. The only thing which can cross the barriers and wipe out the distinctions is the gospel of Jesus Christ telling men of the universal fatherhood of God.” That also goes for distinctions among denominations and other belief systems. But Jesus says he leads us all regardless of the distinctions we make. He is shepherd to us all; we are all one flock.