Outside the sheepfold is where life begins


Herd of sheep
It’s no wonder that sheep crowded into a fold all the time
get disagreeable.

We all know the gate is narrow, and Jesus is the gate, and we don’t want to miss it. Especially when we want to be inside, where it’s safe.

And we know that it’s really safe inside the fold, especially for sheep. Because there aren’t many animals stupider than sheep. If you’ve spent much time with sheep, you know that a sheep will follow anyone with a donut. Which is probably why Calvinists and Arminians spend so much time butting heads over bagels and biscuits and baskets and any round thing that might tempt someone who could mistake it for a donut (or a doctrine).

The only problem is: Sheep don’t belong in a fold. They sleep in a fold, and they recuperate from sicknesses in a fold, but most of the time, sheep are out in a field somewhere. In the fields, they eat and play and love. A good shepherd makes sure they find the places where there’s healthy food growing, keeps them away from toxic plants and cliffs, gets them to waterholes before they get overheated, and chases off any predatory animals (like the shepherd boy David, who protected his flock from bears and lions — 1 Samuel 17: 34-36). That’s why they need a good shepherd to lead them around.

And Jesus says he is a good shepherd. His sheep “will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

But we’re such stupid sheep we forget what sheep are supposed to do. So we’re hanging out in the fold, where it’s safe. And we’re getting hungrier and hungrier, because there’s no food in here. And we’re bored. There’s nothing to do in here. There’s no room to run. There’s barely room for a lamb to jump. So we butt heads. We yell about how “baaaaad!” donuts and other doctrines are.

The only way to get our hearts fed and our minds and our lives going again is to get out of that gate. Thank God Jesus is the gate … and he leads us out, as well as in, and he keeps us safe.

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About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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3 Responses to Outside the sheepfold is where life begins

  1. Cecy says:

    Read it! Live it!

    • Jan Curtis says:

      Very good…I’d send the address to my pastor if I thought he had time to read it. I might anyway,

  2. Let’s all run from the donut man! I’ve heard that the good shepherd will lead us into green pastures and beside still waters! Sounds good to me! Baaaa!

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