1 Peter 2:19–25
Finding what is RealThe parable of the sheep and the gate is one of the more interesting parables that Jesus gives. In every age, discerning what God wants and what we want is difficult, but what makes it more difficult is trying to figure out whom we are supposed follow. In Early Christianity this was a particularly difficult problem, since there were many who would preach “the word of God” but often took advantage. Paul writes about this a lot, since in the early church there were a lot of people who latched onto the movement only to take advantage of the new believers.
There were a lot of reasons why this was advantageous to scoundrels. Since the early Christian movement was apocalyptic, it was easy to get people to part with their possessions and money. Also, though an underground movement, there is always power that comes from taking advantage of others.
Many times these false leaders would use the message of Christ, but only to the point where they could assert their control. This often led to causing derision and dissention within the community. Unfortunately, it also harmed the overall Christian message, since people saw the actions and connected them with the movement. Actually, it is not much different than today! Many people cloak themselves in Christianity (and other faith traditions) to hurt and destroy others.
The parable of the sheep and the gate is very much about this issue. As sheep we long for a leader and direction. For the most part, we know where that leader is going to come from, the gate. We also know that the gate is only going to allow the chosen to pass through. In this story, both the gate and the shepherd is Christ, so the only true leader is Christ. Thus, Christ alludes to the thieves and bandits. In this case he is referring to “Satan” or the evil one who plans to circumvent the gate and go after the sheep.
When thieves come, though they may look all good and well-meaning, they have the explicit purpose of decimating the community for their own gain. However, then the Shepherd comes; his only concern is that the sheep are given life.
Often in our community and world we have a hard time discerning what is good and right. But the paradigm that Christ is giving, and that Paul gives, is one that states that the Christian life works for the good of the whole.
Unfortunately, this is often ripped apart within our modern society, since so often people jump to any discussion about community building and cooperation to be promoting communism. It is not; in fact, communism in practice is the complete opposite of the biblical mandate, as is rugged individualism. Think about it; as communism is practiced there are an elite group with power who operate to control the people. In rugged individualism, anything it takes to get ahead is justifiable; think about that line “it’s only business.” Either way, one is always going to have more rights or power over another, and this is not the community that Christ envisions for us
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen