2 Chronicles 1-3 John 10:1-23
“When he brings all his sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger. They will run away from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10:4-5 NCV)
The more I know about God’s word, the more I know about Jesus, and the more I know about the Christian life, the more I’m convinced that I don’t understand what all that means. When Jesus told this story of the parable of the shepherd, those who lived it every day would understand how the shepherds worked and what Jesus was trying to say to a small degree. Yet, they still didn’t understand the deeper meaning of His words. In this part of the parable, Jesus explained that when He went into the common area where all the sheep were kept, He would call out to them and they’d follow. He’d walk ahead of them and they’d follow. His sheep would never follow a stranger – they’d run away from any stranger.
When I first came to Christ, this verse was easy to understand. I could recognize the presence of Jesus in my life and I knew what to do, and what not to do. It was easy to set up dividing lines between those who were His sheep and those who weren’t, in other words, judge whether or not people were Christians, by looking at their works. Then, I began understanding more about grace. I realized that my earlier distinctions about Christian behavior were not grace-based, but law based. I understood that I needed to re-think what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Then, as I began dealing with different issues in my life, I sought God’s leadership. I didn’t hear a clear voice telling me what to do. I wondered as I made life-changing decisions whether or not I was following the right path and sometimes it paralyzed me, and I couldn’t decide. That’s when I realized that even the searching itself was a way to listen to God. It wasn’t the path I took that mattered when deciding between two ways to serve God, it was the One who walked with me on either path. Obviously, there are some paths that are contrary to God’s will. I’m not going to list the sins that would never be in God’s will – I’ll let you think about that. Given that I don’t indulge and glory in sin, though, when I listen for His voice, He’ll be on the path, leading me. Sometimes, the voice of a stranger seeks to draw me from God’s path. When that happens, I pray that I’ll always run away and follow the voice of Jesus.
Lord, it seems like the more I know about Your will, the less I understand, and the more I think I understand about Your will, the less I know. Help me to follow You throughout my days and reject the voices that would lead me away from You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.