One of my pastors delivered a message based on John 10:1-6 this week. As I reread the passage over the last couple of days, I was struck by something that had never occurred to me. This passage is the prelude to the story of Jesus being the Good Shepherd. What usually sticks out to me in this story is how Jesus says that His sheep will know his voice. This has always been comforting to me. As I’ve prayed and recognized the voice of Christ in my heart over the years I have relished the fact that I did indeed know the voice of my Shepherd.
But this time through it was the second half of the verse that caught my attention. When the sheep hear the voice of a stranger, they don’t recognize it and they run away. Now I admit to not knowing a whole lot about sheep, but I’ve been surrounded by dogs my whole life, so I know a lot about them. I can tell you that when the master gives a dog a command, they recognize that voice and they obey immediately (well, usually they do, but more on that later!). So when I tell one of my dogs to sit, they look at me and sit. However if you came over to my house and told my dog to sit, guess what they would do? They would not recognize your voice and they would do anything but sit! They would run away or attack in fear because a stranger is in the house.
This is exactly how we should behave in our spiritual life. When God gives us a command, we need to turn to Him and obey immediately, no questions asked. We do this for the same reasons my dogs obey me. We do this because we love our Master, we want to please Him and we know He has our best interests at heart. However, when Satan calls our name or tries to draw our attention to something that is not of God, we should react like my dogs react to a stranger: get away from that situation as fast as possible! We should not listen to that voice at all; ignore and flee should be our strategy.
If only this were the way things were. Instead we are like certain stubborn dogs that I have known over the years. They know full well that it’s my voice giving the command; they just choose not to respond. Oh they’ll obey on occasion if it suits their mood, but they are just as likely to stare blankly at you or simply turn and walk away. I’ve known other dogs that will run to any stranger who calls them, or join in any activity that looks like fun (which usually involves a ball). Most of the time we resemble these stubborn or careless dogs more than we do the disciplined, loyal companion.
So if you’ll excuse my replacement of sheep with dogs in my analogy, which type of dog are you? Do you look forward each day to the call of your Master and eagerly jump to do whatever He asks of you? Or do you listen only when it fits your schedule or you can’t find anything better to do? Do you serve Him trusting that He will provide for your needs or do you expect Him to give you what you want whenever you want it based on your desires?
I don’t want to ever respond to a stranger’s voice. We learned as children to never talk to strangers, but we have lost that basic foundational understanding as adults. Run away from the stranger’s voice; take no part in what he says. Instead, run to the arms of Your Master and take refuge there. Obey His voice, flee the stranger. Live the life He has intended for you.