This is not a game. It is not a confrontation. We are not on different teams or different sides.
As Christians, we naturally identify with other Christians. We share common beliefs. We have the same values, rewards, Savior, Guide, Redeemer, God and Word. We operate from the same playbook.
But, non-believers are not on the opposite side or the other team. They, like us, are just sheep. Period. They may be sheep of different color. They may be sheep of different breeds. They may be mountain sheep or wooly sheep. They may be in different pens and they are undoubtedly following another shepherd (even if that shepherd is just another sheep, or even themselves, dressed up to look like a shepherd).
We are not against the other sheep. They are just sheep. We should invite them into the proper pen. We should tell them and show them by the way we live, what it is like to have a good shepherd, one who loves and cares for us. We should help them hear His voice calling their names.
But, they are covered in mud. They have all this sin in their life, these bugs and pests and stuff. Do we really want that in our neat little pen? But, the truth is the only way to get clean is to come through the gate. In a world filled with mud, you cannot clean yourself, you just make things worse. But when someone accepts the call and comes through the gate, that is Jesus, it is like entering through a car wash. Their sins, just like ours, are washed away, we are given new clothes and a new life that last forever.
To the Jews of Jesus’ day, you and I would be the enemy, the other team, the unclean, the ones not to be touched or talked with and avoided if at all possible. But to Jesus, we are all sheep and, as the good shepherd, even while we were dirty and covered in filth and sin, even then he gave his life for us.
What other sheep in the world are you seeing as opponents rather than fellow lost sheep?
Lay down His life for the sheep (and take it up again, v.17). His death on the cross. What will I do? REJOICE, accept the gift (recognizing I did not earn it in anyway and no part of it is up to me) and share the good news with others.
I believe this means the gentiles and any who today do not believe in Jesus. All humans are God’s sheep, since He is our creator we all belong to Him, but He gives us the choice to follow His voice and be in His care or to choose not to follow and be lost and scavenged.
Only God has authority over life and death – Jesus says that “I have authority” – He is God