Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.
“There are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too listen to my voice.” JOHN 10:16
“There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.” GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Plays Pleasant, 1898
The one discipline which gives hope to my occasional hopelessness is acceptance that I do not see the entire picture. My inner vision is limited by environment, by prejudices, by experiences. Sometimes, in meditation, a window to enlightened thinking is opened. Often, when reading the scriptures of wisdom, a metaphor pops off the page and it becomes a moment of eternal truth.
John 10:16 does that for me. I love the perception which Jesus shared of his followers as sheep. A protector, a guide, an admonisher who in all actions lovingly guides me through the perils of life. It’s a comforting metaphor beautifully embodied in Psalm 23 which, assuredly, Jesus read as a young boy in the temple.
My ego wants me to think that I am special, that I am unique. Multiply that egoistic need by millions of others who are seeking comfort and truth in a perilous world and the concept of exclusiveness becomes real. “My belief, my religion, my theology is the only correct way to believe. All you other sheep are misguided heathens. Baaaaaa.”
For me, this is the nugget of understanding which nails my ego to its cross. I am not the only sheep that Jesus loves. Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, etc., etc., are just a piece of the spiritual puzzle called Christianity which is just a part of the message shared by all the great faith walks of the world. Jesus leads my life personally, yes. But, Jesus is also Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Allah, and all the purveyors of the one message of truth. That message is that I am a servant serving under a God of love and compassion. That God is universal truth.
Labels are probably important for someone like me whose ego needs identity, but using that label to distinguish and separate me from all the other sheep is counterproductive to the messages of wisdom found in scriptures.
“My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival.” JOHN 14:2 The Voice