I know Jesus is my Savior, and long for His return. I see so many of my friends and family who don’t feel the same way, and am sad for them. The situation in my life now is such that I am choosing to lean on Him more than ever. But I got a comment from my cousin that caused me to pause and think. She wrote, “I’d be hesitant to associate myself with another being [Jesus] who refers to his followers as ‘sheep’, or thinks good people who don’t know him should suffer.” I know that Jesus’ love is offered freely to all, and that He doesn’t want any of us to suffer, but we must choose to follow Him. I’ve made up my mind, and I think she has also, but what can I tell her?
Like all unbelievers your cousin thinks Jesus is just another man and rejects the notion that our Creator has the right to hold us accountable for our actions.
Jesus did refer to His followers as sheep, but He also referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). It was His willingness to die for us that makes it possible for us to live with Him in eternity.
Unbelievers have a relative standard of behavior that lets them believe some people are good and don’t deserve punishment. But the Bible says no one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18) and that all have sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23).
She is right in saying that people she calls “good” who don’t know Him will suffer. But that’s not because God is unfair or unjust. It’s because they refused to believe that only our faith in the shed blood of Jesus can make us good enough to meet God’s standards, and without that faith it is impossible to please Him no matter how “good” we think we are (Hebrews 11:6).
I think you’re right about your cousin having made up her mind. So rather than try to come up with a good response now, your best strategy is to pray that God will soften her heart first, so that further discussion about her need for a Savior can be fruitful.