A random gust of wind, courtesy of Hurricane Delta, blew over a section of our fence. This side of fence borders our neighbors who own two dogs. The friendly dogs loved the new found freedom of exploring our backyard until the fence was repaired.
One day as I sat outside in the early morning silence listening to birds sing and watching flocks fly overhead, Scout and Gadget burst from their backdoor and bolted straight into our yard.
After some time, their owner called for them. Even though she called them by name, they ignored her.
In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t entice them to stay. I simply sat in my chair and watched what they would do. Scout stood by my chair, looked in the direction of her owner’s voice, then looked at me. Gadget ignored her owner’s voice and continued exploring our yard.
After several more calls, Scout took one final look at me, turned toward her yard, and went home. Gadget looked toward home, yet didn’t budge. Several more calls. Nothing.
I stood, walked toward Gadget, called, clapped my hands, and told her to go on home. She came to me, paused, then walked into her yard.
Again, no. I’m not some irresistible dog whisperer, and our neighbors love and take care of their dog babies. So no reason to avoid going home.
But this interaction between owner and dog got my mind thinking about the interaction between the Good Shepherd and his sheep. When Jesus calls us, who are we more like? Scout or Gadget? Do we recognize our Shepherd’s voice and go to him? Or do we hear his voice but ignore him altogether?
In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd. He is the Gate through which his sheep are saved. He is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his sheep and calls them by name.
When he calls, his sheep recognize his voice and come to him. His sheep follow him because they know his voice and know they can trust him. The sheep won’t follow a stranger, because they don’t know his voice.
Although I could have enticed Scout and Gadget to stay with me instead of going to their owner by offering them treats or belly rubs, I didn’t. Even though they know me, are comfortable with me, and know I won’t hurt them, they aren’t my dogs. They aren’t my sheep. They belong to someone else.
There are those in the world who take advantage of their position. They try to entice Jesus’ followers away from him with falsehoods, offers of influence, power, financial gain, any number of things. They want Christ’s sheep to follow them. They don’t want Christ’s sheep following the only true Good Shepherd.
As sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd, we need to shut our ears to false shepherds and open them to the voice of the One who knows us by name and loves us with an everlasting love. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus’ love for us is so great he willingly laid down his life in death so we would never face separation from him.
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The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 (TLB)
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