People who attend church are often called sheep. It’s a reference Jesus used in the New Testament to refer to His followers (John 10:4 … and his sheep follow him because they know his voice). Jesus identifies himself as our Shepherd.
I was reading today in 1st Corinthians and in the first few chapters, Paul is giving a rebuke to the church about their petty jealousy and their disunity. Some members of the church were saying they were followers of Paul and others Apollos, others Cephas and others Christ. They were arguing about whose sheep they were. Paul gives a strong rebuke on their disunity and then he is very clear that the gospel is about Jesus – not anyone who baptised you or whose church you attend.
He continues with this in chapter 3: “7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Did you see what he did there? It’s all about God – not us. Not who we follow or who we lead. A wise mentor of mine once told me, “There is no such thing as sheep stealing because there is only one shepherd.”
I love the diversity that is the body of Christ. I love that if I want to worship Christ with brothers and sisters in a more liturgical service, I can do so. If I want to worship Him in a more contemporary way, I can do so – sometimes even in the same day.
If we as leaders really believe that success is not in the numbers: Followers Are Not Fruit,
then we will loosen the death grip we have on the attendees at church.I am in no way advocating for a careless leadership that has no regard for the people in the seats but that we can give people the freedom to move in the body as they need without anger and jealousy. People will feel the support to find a home where they can grow and be successful sheep under the one Shepherd..
I remember over 10 years ago when DVD’s first came out. I can’t remember which movie it was that we had watched but when it was over my girlfriend said, “Let’s find the Easter eggs.” I thought she had gone crazy. She explained to me that Easter Eggs were these hidden features you could find on the disc. They were actually really cool.
Daring to be called sacrilegious, I will suggest to you that the Bible if FULL of Easter Eggs. You can read it at face value, cover to cover and miss so much. Honestly some passages are outright confusing when you read them at face value and do no further investigation.
For goodness sake look at 1 Corinthians 14:34
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
Churches are overwhelmingly failing at upholding this law that the Bible is VERY CLEAR on!
Most people understand that there is obviously more here than reads the eye. There is background, contextually, culturally and geographically, there is translation to consider (Greek has 5 words for love, we have 1 -come on!) etc. etc. This is one of the beautiful things about the Bible. It doesn’t just sit at surface level – you have dig. If you do not dig, your theology will be very contradictory. There are Easter Eggs that need to be discovered by you. It means you have to reach into the letters and punctuation and find out what was the original meaning and how do we apply it to now.
The Bible was written thousands of years ago and I passionately believe it is still relevant today. Yet another beautiful thing about God’s love letter to His people, that He wrote through His people.
What do we do when we read through the very same passages and arrive at different conclusions? We tread humbly and respectfully, showing love to each other. We listen and re-examine. Sometimes we will have to agree to disagree and work through how to do life together with differences.
It doesn’t mean you have to be a theologian to understand the Bible but it does mean you need to work at it. This leads me to believe that Jesus never wanted followers who are happy being spoon-fed and have things laid out like underwear with the days of the week on them. He wants thinkers. He wants people who aren’t afraid to question. If only our church leaders wanted the same thing.