Keeping the Pen Open

Keeping the Pen Open

Just reflecting this morning on God’s word. On his commandments to love. On Jesus’ greatest acts of love.

I’m thinking about all of the times we’re told to fear not.

I’m remembering the words of God hidden within a popular children’s song, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”

Fear not. Love one another. Be a light.

These are all simple tasks for believers living within the comfortable bubble of safeguarded, feel good Christianity. Going to church with the fold. Interacting with the fold. Living out the commandments with the fold.

Many become nodding sheep moving within an insulated bubble of Christendom, contentedly cut off from the outside world.

This is not the Christianity of Christ. Christ did not die for the righteous. Christ did not bleed for the saved. Christ did not suffer for the sinless.

We’re directed to love our neighbor as ourselves, not love our Christian neighbor as ourselves.

We’re directed to let our light shine before men, not shine our light before Christian men.

We’re told to be like a city on a hill, a beacon which can’t be hidden from any part of the world, not a hidden city accessible only to those who know the secret location.

We’re told of the senselessness of lighting a lamp only to shield it under the covering of a basket. The light, we’re reminded, is for a table, visible and accessible to ALL who are in the house.

In Acts, the walking orders for believers are clear, “‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'”

In John 10, Jesus compares himself to a shepherd who will give up his life for his sheep. He uses the parable of the shepherd and herd to foretell his death on the cross for sinners. What often gets overlooked in the parable, however, is Jesus’ assertion that there are other sheep who are not within the pen who are his as well.

“I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.”

Christians, we do not exist in a pen all our own.

When orders are given to ban human beings from our country because they are fleeing the savagery of extremism in their own country, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear.

When human beings from other religions are vilified and excluded, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear.

When children of refugees are washing up on the shores of beaches, drowned and lifeless, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear.

When our country insulates itself within the protective pen of Christendom, turning away women and children who have survived the terrors of hate and religious extremists, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear.

When our country removes its light from the hill and its lamp from the table, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear.

When our country sends a message to the world that the pen is only open certain sheep, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear.

The word of God is clear. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves and that includes our Syrian, Somalian, and Libyan neighbors.

The word of God is clear. We are to shine our light to believers and unbelievers alike, witnessing to each with the same love and grace as Jesus.

The word of God is clear. Just because we’ve found our way to the pen does not mean the door to the pen closes to those who are still out in the pasture. The door remains open. The light remains on.

There are other sheep who are not yet part of our fold, who are in the same desperate need of hearing God’s voice, who are trying to find their way out of the same dismal darkness, and who are longing for the same life-saving love as we were when we were lost and wandering and alone.

The door to the pen didn’t close to us when we finally found the pen, the light in the stable didn’t turn off when we finally walked into its warmth, the other sheep didn’t scatter in fear at the sight of a new sheep longing to join the fold.

We, by the grace of God, were restored.

Restored by love, restored by light, restored because others feared not.

It’s our turn to do the same. It’s our turn to fight to keep the door open by shining our light, loving our neighbors, and walking without fear.

 

 

 

 

 

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