Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Down and Dirty

In John 10:11 Jesus describes himself as "The Good Shepherd." While that was a picturesque description for those who lived and breathed in 1st century Israel, it doesn't speak with quite the same volume in 21st century U.S.

I've heard lots of sermons and read books that explained the work of a shepherd, in order to help communicate what Jesus meant by that self-description, but I think I'm getting a clearer picture, now. Naturally, our world has a new axis on which it turns: three kids in need of love, provision and discipline. Yet, we can't forget that the central foundation of our home is Darin's and my love for one another and the Lord.

The Good Shepherd was the same. He changed his axis point by revolving his world around us: "Though he was God, he did not cling to his rights as God. He appeared in human form" (Phil 2:6-7), but he kept his foundational point of intimate relationship with his Father central to his purposes. What strikes me most is not the details of being a shepherd - the tasks and responsibilities, but rather the simple fact that shepherding is dirty work (as is changing diapers). Jesus got dirty (so to speak) when he took that human form. He walked around in the literal dirt of Israel's soil and in the figurative dirt of a corrupt society's social and religious structure. In the grime of our sinful pride and foolish logic. We're pretty dirty sheep.

The question then begs itself, "Who are we to think we should not humble ourselves among the 'dirty' of the world?" Is their dirt more filthy than mine? Are there categories of "dirtiness"? Soil is dirt whether it's fill dirt, potting soil, sand or clay. God doesn't look at me and say, "Oh, well, Julie's dirt is cleaner than _______." Rather, he holds up Jesus next to me and says, "This is what it means to be created in my image" (Michael Card).

Adam and Eve were created from the dirt of the ground - we're all dirty people, in need of a Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. Jesus is asking me right now to get down and dirty with some little people in our church; who needs you to get down and dirty with them today?

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