25 April 2021. 4th Sunday Easter. Cycle B-2021. Acts 4:8-12 + 1 Jn 3:1-2 + Jn 10:11-18
“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16).
We have one LORD, one Shepherd, and one Bible. But why not one Church? Why are Christians split into Catholics and Protestants? Catholics split into Roman and Greek? Protestants split into hundreds of sects? Disciples split into orthodox and liberal?
Is the difference between each group deeper than the difference between siblings? Can there not be unity in diversity? Is the difference so irreconcilable that separation is the option?
The Word of God is living and dynamic, so God talks to each one individually but not differently. But individuals do not hear equally, see equally, or understand equally, so Jesus appointed one head to interpret, direct, and integrate the different perceptions.
The obstacle to Christian unity is not the difference in doctrine, but the difference in discipline. It is not “what it is” but “how it is.” As long as there is one mind, different members moving differently should be normally constructive, not abnormally destructive.
Since each group wants, not mere autonomy, but authority, differences in discipline are exacerbated as differences in doctrine. Nobody would like to admit fault. Each group pins error outwards, not inwards. Each organ of Christ’s Body wants to be the head, not the limbs (1Corintihians 12:22-27).
The greatest of obstacles to Christian unity are pride and selfishness. Pride blocks the left ear, selfishness the right ear. Pride blinds the left eye, selfishness the right eye. But when the deaf speaks to the deaf, both would hear conflicting voices. When the blind leads the blind they would both “fall into the pit.”
Christ is the One Shepherd. Where the Shepherd goes, the flock goes. The sheep may bleat differently, but they march in unison. Jesus built his Church in Peter, not in the apostles. VSS
Picture credit: Top photo from Pexels.com; Bottom photo from hopeinthehealing.com