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» » » MISSIVES TO ALL BELIEVERS OF CHRIST




THE HERD: UNDERSTANDING THE ASSEMBLAGE
Jdg 5:16  Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. 

“Sam you know nothing”
One Sunday in 2016, I was in church, I was about to start leading prayer when the Holy Spirit said to me (within), “Sam, you know nothing!” It was very real and undeniable that I wondered why it had to come that morning and at that time I was prepared to serve God. I quickly remembered the day I composed a song at the Chapel of Christ Our Light in the University Of Lagos, “I know nothing …” Then I wrote the words in my Sunday School manual that day.  After that I walked to a corner and picked a book written by Mark Jimoh, The Mantle for the Mandate. It might be coincidence to some, merely; but to me it is one of the ways in which the Holy Spirit communicates and confirms His words, that as I opened the book what I saw was a verse about knowing nothing. I dropped it immediately as if it was a very hot metal. During teachers’ preparatory class that weekend, the teacher also discussed that aspect.
I sought to know
And I after much trouble within me decided to understand what was happening. Then I decided to know about God, more. I wanted to read about God –who is God. And I came across many writings of Atheists. Their arguments were great, quite valid and convincing such that for three days I was confused, I almost stop praying; One had wrote that God is a virus in a very logical and convincing way, showing God as merely a mental creation that plague our lives. In fact I began to struggle to say some words of prayers, without faith. I almost lost faith in three days just because I read some books. I didn’t want to go to church anymore. I told my brother in the Lord, brother Caleb Elegbeleye. Sincerely, it took me days to recover. Thank God I had had real encounter about God’s reality. Then the Holy Spirit came and said that if I thought I knew and within an hour I almost became an atheist, what would happen if I met and relate with and stay with atheists for days? The revelation then was that a time for atheist campaign is coming; a great campaign with passion and many … I’m afraid are weak to withstand it. The Holy Spirit gave me instructions about that. It is quite worrisome to know that the campaign has begun, softly, and is growing. What will galvanise the campaign will be dissatisfaction and bitterness against religious practices. And that was what has galvanized it.

Coping with complexities
Similarly, some months ago, the Holy Spirit made me to know that it is necessary to examine the complexities in the church and see how the church will cope. I knew He will be the one to teach it. I know nothing. I began to write, most times without any premeditation other than the heading. It is also worrisome that dissatisfaction and bitterness against religious practices have been creating wide rifts and tension in the church. The painful thing is how the campaigns generate comments and mockery against the church. I am not worried though. I know for sure that nothing can destroy the work of God founded upon The Rock, Christ. My confidence is in the word that “Upon this Rock will I build My church and the gate of hell cannot prevail against it.” It is the Word of the Lord; Jesus uttered it by Himself. And it is forever settled in heaven. Hallelujah! When I was the Bible Study Secretary in the Gospel Students Fellowship, Unilag Chapter I was led to write on The Controversies (from or in the Bible). I made it a project among members. The project cannot die! But those controversies are part of the complexities that have made the church a house divided against itself. Thank God for Christ Who sustains the church!
Levels
It’s noteworthy that there are among the flock people for whose sake my unlimited freedom can be consciously limited. Apostle Paul said that we must not use our liberties to become a stumbling block unto others. It is self control. There are times we need to keep silent for if we speak it will be divisive pedantry rather than edifying utterance. In a sheepfold, some are grown or mature; some are sick; some are pregnant; some are wounded; some are suckling; some are old. They all cannot just be the same at a time.
Eze 34:4 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 
Eze 34:4  The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 
Eze 34:5  And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 
Eze 34:6  My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them
The Lord God is aware that a sheep can get lost. And so what? He expects the shepherds and mature hands to search and locate the lost and after that they are not to scold it, beat it, judge it or maltreat it but they are to welcome it and restore it and celebrate it and tend to it; in fact they are to defend it. That is what the father of the son who wandered and returned did, according to Jesus’ parable.
Treat everyone with wisdom
The shepherd (and the mature hands) must know how to treat each according to their level of understanding. Paul the apostle lamented that he had solid food for the immature. Yet he begged them to grow. He would not feed them solid when all they could take is milk. We need to stop using our level of revelation and growth or maturing in faith to judge others. Judging in this sense refers to criticism in a self-justifying way.
Peace is a must
There’s nothing spiritual about judgmental-outspokenness; it’s sheer self-aggrandizing. Being at peace with all men is a command. That means being at peace with Christians is non-negotiable. It is especially. And peace requires sacrifice of knowledge and rights oftentimes. It is not helpful, of course, to ignore stupidity and stubbornness but it is very helpful to gain the attention and trust of the stupid and the stubborn before we correct him.
Same kind but different
It is common to believe that herd means a collection of sheep or cattle. In that sense, the unflappability of sheep should grant us a calm environment. The sheep or cattle will not shout or cry. They go gently and graze gently together. But we cannot deny that a sheep can bleat. And that bleating can cause others to bleat either in fear or confusion. And a cow or bull can moo. There is always a standardized way of doing things either naturally or conventionally. But there are always exceptions, often necessitated by circumstances. When a sheep, a healthy sheep is going astray, the shepherd can use the stick as a rod –to hit the swaying and at times as a staff –to point to the right direction. But when sheep make a noise the shepherd must discern and know how to attend to them; hitting won’t stop the bleating.
A child left to himself
The wise one wrote that we should teach a child in the way he should go and when he’s grown he’ll not depart from it. When, some kings started well with God because they were taught well by their parents but they later chose to depart from the good ways and went away from God.  The reason is because there is a difference between codes and teachings. When a child is offered codes such a child will follow it for a while and possibly for life. But only strict laws and punishment by the society will make a child remain following what is just codified. When a child understands a Way and is convinced then he will not depart from it. That is what the wise Solomon meant by teaching a child. He also said that child left to himself will bring shame. Now, some folds of the church take God’s word seriously –teaching it. Some take it lightly and ceremonially –talking it. The ones that are taught are still praying to God for grace of doing. What will happen to the ones who are not taught or given to study? That is what is happening to the church right now! Let the folds that have given much attention to ceremony and traditions know that a bird cannot fly with one wing. We must go into the word –therein is our peace and prosperity.
HERDS OF DIFFERENT KINDS
In Abeokuta, Ogun State and other parts of South West of Nigeria and in fact Benue which is a Northern state the cattle are feared. We may change direction because a little boy is leading a flock of five cows us. We fear them. We see them as wild or mini-wild. But I see in Kano that cows are like goats, highly domestic. Cows roam neighbourhood with goats and sheep. I walked near them, face them; walk behind them or amidst them. Even children can say “kai!” and the cow will go away. And the ones that are in hundreds are not ferocious. They just act like sheep. Nobody is going to feel any fear when they walk close to him. The most wonderful thing is that the Fulani Herdsmen often go about with their dogs. And the cows and sheep will see the dogs as their family.
Dogs may bark
When the dogs now bark, the sheep and the cattle won’t shout. They will just look at what is making the dogs) to bark. Then they will continue their journeying. The barking of a dog cannot cause sheep or even goats to start crying. No! Nevertheless, the barking dog will still be treated as family. As it always is the case, after some times, the dog or dogs barking will be quiet.
The Christian fold
The Christian fold is such that some are being transformed from goats to sheep; some from dogs to sheep; some from cats to sheep. Such converts can still react to things noisily and violently. It is important to note that in denominations where the word of God is not prioritized such converts may not be transformed any further than the spirit’s regeneration at conversion. I know denominations and one very prominent that treats tradition and ceremony with greater interest than the word of God. That is why it is not impossible to have barkings and mewings. It is a dishonor for a shepherd to respond to barkings of dogs or bleatings of sheep just by doing the same.
Before you go public
This is one of the way to coping which is known and which I hope to discuss later. That will be after the realities of complexities are treated. But in short, Jesus Christ said when two people have misunderstanding we should speak to each other and seek a way to solve issues. When the ‘offender’ party is not reasoning, then the offended can inform a third party. And when the offender still refuse to yield we’re not encouraged to blackmail him; we just leave him be and we will not lose hope.
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the herd is of one shepherd
The chief shepherd is Christ. Whether one of the herd is sick, weak, pregnant, wounded, lost, stubborn, bleating, barking, crying, cripple or old Jesus is the head and owner. He cares very much about everyone such that the heaven rejoices over one repenting, in this case, a returning one, than over ninety and nine who need no repentance. We must be careful lest our pedantry cause us to see only the fault in others while we ignore the rotten faults in ourselves.

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