I know My sheep and My sheep know Me.
As a young person, I worked a couple of summers installing and mending fences for area ranchers. I got to know a few types of animals pretty well during this time, primarily cattle, hogs, and sheep. I love being around animals but I have to say that I liked sheep the best. For the most part, sheep are quiet, enjoy the company of their own flock and tend to run when startled rather than confront. (If that sounds familiar, it should, but that’s another article altogether.) I think this experience in my life is why the “Good Shepherd” is one of my favorite images for Christ. It’s easy however to take an analogy too far, so it’s important for us to recognize that people are much more complex and independent than sheep.
We know we are Christ’s sheep. As it says in Psalm 100 –
“Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
But as we heard in Pastor Joe’s sermon on Sunday, each one of us is also called to a shepherd of God’s sheep. We care for one another. We feed one another both physically and spiritually. We call each other back when we go astray. But how does a good shepherd accomplish this when people are so much more complex than sheep? Let’s take a cue from John 10.
“I am the good shepherd.
I know My sheep and My sheep know Me,
just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.”
These verses from from John 10 provide much more insight into shepherding than might appear at first glance. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve skipped over the “I know my sheep” part. Or maybe you have thought that Christ knew his sheep only because he was God and that part doesn’t really apply to us. But I can assure you, it does. It’s vital that we as shepherds, especially a good shepherd, get to know the people in our care. How else can we identify and meet their needs? How else would we be able to help them improve their strengths and shore up their weaknesses? How else will we discover what work Christ has for them to do and encourage them in it?
I know My sheep and My sheep know Me
Can you imagine what the church would be like if we lived the motto – “Every sheep a shepherd?” If we are to strive for this, getting to know each other and seeing our brothers and sisters as God sees them is where we need to start. What steps will you take in this direction? Can we help you get started?