I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
-1 John 3:16
In several Christian denominations, this Sunday is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The lectionary readings for this day revolve around this theme of Jesus being the Good Shepherd. The lectionary psalm for this day is the familiar Psalm 23, "The Lord is My Shepherd." As we are not that far past Holy Week, we remember his death and see clearly now what Jesus meant when he said "A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
But while that statement still hangs in the air, the writer of 1 John suggests an action is required from us: "We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." What does that mean??? Jump in front of a speeding train to save someone? Maybe... but maybe not that dramatic... the writer continues: "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." Ouch!! In other words, put your money where your mouth is... if we're going to call ourselves Christians, we need to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, and live the life. Are we not his hands and feet, as members of the Body of Christ?
I don't know how aware you are of your actions, but oh, how miserably I fail at this sometimes! There are days when I can't even be kind to my own family members... or let a stranger in front of me in traffic... or worse... I'm sure we all have days where we are wandering aimlessly, as lost as sheep!
We live in a culture where it's so easy to be self-centered and look the other way when helping another might be painful, or even just inconvenient. Yet, isn't the act of helping someone a way to share the love of God? And doesn't it draw us closer to our Good Shepherd, in return?