Have you named the Sheep?
Jesus talked a lot about sheep in the gospels. I’m sure they were plentiful and something very familiar to his followers. If I were to look at a flock of sheep I wouldn’t be able to tell one from another. Even a farmer will mark a newborn lamb to identify which goes with the mother. But the shepherd knows his sheep. He can see as much differentiation as a dog lover does in a pack of Chihuahua personal pets. Each sheep is known by the shepherd. In fact Jesus talks about how they are called by name.
When we get to know people, call them by name, we begin to see the unique imprint of God on their lives. As we develop relationships we no longer say this or that group of people all look the same, instead we identify them by their characteristics. As we go deeper into relationship we can learn about those yankee Americans, families who live in trailer parks, people who shop at Wal-Mart, those Hispanic intinerants, people whose neck is red or the arriving refugees. By this process instead of being a part of a labeled group, they become an individual, a friend, someone important to us.
We in turn become something different as we share joys, walk through deep sorrow, enjoy new experiences and discover how big God is by seeing His plan unfold in lives from around the world.