I am reading a book to my 5-year-old daughter called Mountain Born (written by Elizabeth Yates). The book is about a young boy that is learning to be a shepherd. His first time alone with the sheep, he falls asleep. When he awakes he realizes that the sheep have been scattered. He is afraid and doesn’t know what to do. As he was panicking, one of the elder shepherds came to check in on him. The shepherd calms the boy, begins signaling the sheepdog and goes to work gathering the flock. “It was slow work, but gradually the flock formed itself into a unit again…”
And then a phrase in the book jumped out at me…The shepherd said, “It doesn’t take much to keep them together, but once they get separated, it’s a lot of work to bring them together again.”
Over and over throughout scripture we are compared to sheep. Jesus [our shepherd] prayed for us in John 17. His desire is that we would experience such perfect unity. To be a unit. David wrote in Psalm 133:1, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!”
Not only is there peace in unity, but we can accomplish much when we stay together and work together. Unity is important!
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT)
We each have gifts and talents that help us to serve God, and each other. We are meant to work together as a unit. We are meant to build each other up – not to tear each other down.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)
There is huge danger in being alone. Scripture mentions that Satan wants to sift us as wheat – to be sifted means to be separated. Peter warns of the extreme danger of being separated from our unit in 1 Peter 5:8, where he says we need to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” When we are alone we are easier targets. Remember you have a family of believers. A unit. Let us hold each other accountable, and let us motivate each other.
LORD, my shepherd, please help me to be careful of the things I say and do. Don’t let me do anything that would cause one of my brothers or sisters to stumble, fall, or leave the unit behind. Let me be someone who encourages and motivates and loves. Help me to think and understand. Help me to not be easily offended, so that I will not be pushed away from the unit either. I am in agreement with you, let there be a perfect unity in your church body – in the unit – that you have placed each one of us. Let us not be judgmental, but let us build each other and help each other back up when we fall. Let us show each other the grace you have shown us. You will leave the 99, to bring back the 1 that is lost. Bring us back together again. Form us into a unit again. Let us not get easily distracted by the things that might lead us away from the unit or you. Thank you for your care. Amen.