What’s next?

That’s the question many of us are asking these days. We’re in a state of uncertainty. As I speak, the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in Nova Scotia, many of us are still in a state of shock or mourning after the recent mass shootings. Many of us are scared. Domestic violence and calls to mental health crisis lines are both on the increase.

The passage we just heard from John’s Gospel is known as the parable of the good shepherd. Jesus is our shepherd. People who truly belong to God listen to and believe in the words of Jesus. We must distinguish his voice from all the other voices we hear in our daily lives and follow Him in faith. He provides the security of an eternal kingdom, but people often look elsewhere for their spiritual and eternal security. No forces other than our own can snatch us out of His good care and keeping. There is no security in the law, only unbelief. Christianity is not about Christians behaving themselves. It is about hope for those who do not have any-including all of us. All we have in ourselves is doubt and fear-and nothing there is certain.

Life cannot be conquered, but it can be delayed, put on hold or made dormant. When we retreat to the safety and comfort of our own personal sheepfolds, we can’t fully enjoy the fullness of a life lived in God. Life is not the same as existence. Ease does not bring joy, and less demanding often means less fulfilling.

Jesus came to give us eternal life, offer us forgiveness, set us free from guilt and sin, and give us a fuller, meaningful life here on earth. We can live abundant lives because he can provide forgiveness from sin. In order to seek the gifts he offers us, we have to continually follow him and obey him without reservation. Don’t we all want to experience the joy of living and moving in grace-filled rhythm, in tune with something larger than ourselves? Don’t we all want the sense that we are living and moving in perfect rhythm to the song of the Christian life?

Fear is our new neighbour, just like it was for the people the apostle John wrote his Gospel for. We have nothing to fear if Jesus is our good shepherd. He loves us and cares for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep. This is the kind of love that is needed in our churches, schools, homes and communities. It is the type of love Jesus calls us to show.

Jesus is talking about real sheep. He is talking about us. He is speaking the word that will bring us from the places of comfort and safety that we have built around us. When we retreat to our safe places, we miss out on taking part in the fullness of life with God. Staying in the safe places is easy, but it is not life. Jesus calls us from our safe places to a life in Him-a life where He will walk with us and protect us.

Bibliography

  1. Craig Condon, “Jesus, the Good Shepherd.” Retrieved from the author’s sermon library.
  2. Rev. Ann Sutherland Howard, “How to Love Like a Mother.” Retrieved from www.huffpost.com/entry/love-like-a-mother_b_5266622
  3. The Rev. Adam Thomas, “The Young Leaders Series III: The Sheepfold.” Retrieved from www.day1.org

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