God placed the beautiful image of a flock of grazing sheep in green pastures in my path this morning. He also showed me the difference between a flock and a fold. He knows I’m a visual leaner, and the images He provided were just what I needed to help me understand the important differences between the two. A sheepfold is a pen or an enclosure for sheep, but the folds come together to form a flock that grazes together in the pasture. Christ makes it clear in John 10:16 that He has many folds that all belong to the same flock. He is the good Shepherd who laid down His life to bring His folds together.
God is about oneness, and Jesus is one with God. Pens are necessary for sheep just as churches are necessary for Christians. It’s important to gather together and enjoy sweet Christian fellowship, but the point must always be to glorify God. Being one glorifies God; Jesus came so we could be one with Him as He is one with God. I don’t understand how His message of unity causes division; but it did then, and it does now. We are one flock with one Shepherd, and we must move from thinking from of living in a fold to loving in a flock.
Jesus says it beautifully in John 10:14-20
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”NASB
This beautiful scripture is a wonderful example of irony. Christ’s attempt to get the folds to be one flock and embrace the oneness of God causes division. I would laugh if it weren’t so very sad. Heaven is oneness in its purest form, and walking in God’s kingdom here must involve the same oneness. I’m finding that some folks cling to the fold and don’t like it when I don’t do the same. I thank God that there are many more who welcome the notion of oneness even if it is unfamiliar. As God is calling me to leave one fold and join another, I am challenged myself to maintain relationships while making new ones. The lessons of late have been tough as I navigate the unknown, but God continues to give me His peace and place passages such as John 10 in my path to encourage me to stay the course He’s set before me. I know there will be challenges along the way because the world loves division
Unity must come to my own heart first, and that is a process that will continue as long as I am in this world. Atonement is, as Oswald Chambers says, at-one-ment. Being one with God through His Son and Spirit allows me to be one with His flock. I also must see the fold for what it is and not get it confused with the flock. There is one Shepherd and many wonderful messengers who feed God’s flock. I am blessed to know and love so many faithful messengers who feed faithfully in beautifully different ways.
Folds are never to be in competition with one another. God wants us to come together as one wonderful flock. When that happens, God’s kingdom comes, and His will is done in a way that will send Satan running for shelter. The image of a beautiful flock of sheep peacefully grazing together is the image God has for all His children.
Fold of Sheep by David Wyatt