I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
We met through the church young adult group, but we did not always act like adults. When you have several dozen twenty-somethings spending so much time together, you can expect some personalities to clash. While hanging out after service one night two of our members began to argue. One felt the other was not providing the support a friend should provide. While some of us decided to let the two of them talk it out, only one person took the step of trying to meditate the conversation. He could see that there was real hurt there and that these two friends were starting to divide, but he could not let that happen. He wanted to keep the sheep united.
This passage contains three characters who we will come across at some point in life. The hireling and the wolf might seem different, but they are similar in one crucial way. While the wolf desires division among the sheep, and the hireling is merely indifferent to it, the end result of both is the same. Neither of these figures pursues the unity that the shepherd will pursue. The Church cannot afford to carry a spirit of division, especially among those who have been charged with keeping the flock united. A good shepherd will work purposefully to achieve that unity. If he is causing division within the flock or even is simply indifferent to it, he has failed to do his job.
The wise shepherd will know the great importance of keeping the flock united in spirit. The wise shepherd will understand that a church body divided will simply fall. The wise shepherd will desire what the good shepherd desires, which is for the bride to come together in purity in preparation for her groom. We must make sure that the leaders we follow have this as their aim. Our faith is not about division, not about factions. It is about a body united in its members and working productively. Father, bring us leaders who will unite us in spirit and purpose for the furtherance of your kingdom.