One of the problems that we have in the church is the same problem that Ezekiel talked about in chapter 34 - we've got some fat sheep who like to throw their weight around and butt into everyone with their horns. And the solution to this problem, Ezekiel also talked about and God planned from the very beginning - it is to put the same Shepherd, Jesus, over all the sheep, the fat ones and the lean ones.
Yesterday, I asked, quite sadly, if you know what a difference Jesus would make in your church.
And I think that's the thing that too often, we're missing. Whether we are fat sheep or lean sheep or somewhere in the middle, we tend to forget that every single sheep in the fold is under the same shepherd. Every single person in our midst loves Jesus, loves to hear His voice, is learning to hear His voice better, is learning to trust Him more. Every single person in our midst is listening for Jesus.
Too often, we're drowning out His voice with all our bleating.
But that person sitting next to you? She's there because she loves Jesus. That guy walking in just now? He's there because he loves Jesus.
That fat sheep that keeps bumping into you, that feels like he's trying to shove you aside, that has his horns squared right toward your heart, it seems? He's there because he loves Jesus.
That lean sheep that keeps getting in your way, that doesn't seem to be fattening up at all, that is timid and shy and overwhelmed by the whole thing? She's there because she loves Jesus.
I think if we learned to look at one another as lovers of Jesus first, so much of the trouble that we have within our fellowshipping would go away. So much of the stuff we fight over and argue about, so much of what separates us, so much of what makes us feel either strong or weak, fat or lean...it would just go away. If the most important thing you knew about anyone else, and the first thing you thought of every time you saw them, was that they love Jesus, I just think that would necessarily change the way that you interact with them.
Because when we realize that everyone is here because they love Jesus (or because they're learning to love Jesus or because they want to love Jesus), it reminds us that we, too, are here because we love Jesus. That's it. We're here because we love our Shepherd. And all of a sudden, all those insecurities that have had us shoving one another around just...disappear. I'm here because I love Jesus; anything else is far, far, far, far secondary to that.
Loving Jesus, it just puts us automatically standing together. It puts us pointing toward Him. We aren't persons in the crowd jostling for position, shoving one another around so that we can get a closer look. We're close enough already, and we're standing there shouting and pointing, "Here He is! It's Jesus! Hey, Jesus!" And He turns, and He smiles, and He calls our name. That's it. That's what this is.
Do you know how big a difference Jesus can make in your church? Do you know how big a difference it makes in our one anothering when we remember, first and foremost, that everyone is here because they love Jesus...even us?
Church shouldn't be about fat sheep or lean sheep. Actually, it shouldn't be about sheep at all. The wisdom from Ezekiel is still true today:
It's about the Shepherd.