by Charles Bertelsmeier
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… they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice (John 10:4b,5).
Read John 10:1–10
This verse is from a half chapter in the Gospel of John in which Jesus talks about himself as the Good Shepherd looking after his sheep. The only responses required of the sheep are to recognise Jesus’ voice and follow where he leads them. He promises a rich and fulfilling life. If we try to translate this to our own context in our lives, it raises the question of how we identify the voice of our Lord Jesus and recognise it in the midst of other competing voices.
This brought to mind an experience I had when I was in my late 30s. It was a period of my life when I had few commitments and some spare time, and I was open to experience other expressions of Christianity. This led me into some of the ‘fringes’ of Christianity (you may refer to them as sects). The contact point for one of these groups was a colleague from work, and he proposed some one-on-one Bible studies during our lunch break. He started by quoting many Bible verses and proposing interpretations that I was uncomfortable with. An amazing thing happened; the Holy Spirit put other verses of the Bible into my mind that clearly countered his interpretation. Together, we searched for these verses in the Bible, and this led to some interesting discussions. Unfortunately, we only managed one study; the opportunity for more didn’t eventuate. On reflection, I see that I was hearing and recognising the voice of the Good Shepherd to me (the Bible verses I was recalling) at the same time this other ‘shepherd’ was trying to lead me down a different path.
This experience also brought home to me the necessity of continuing to hear the voice of our Good Shepherd through systematically reading the Bible. The Holy Spirit could only bring to mind verses I had already read, and these only then had authority to speak to the situation when we actually found them in the Bible. Otherwise, I would effectively have been only offering an opinion.
Are you finding time to regularly and systematically read through the Bible (possibly using different translations each time through), so that you come to readily recognise the voice of the Good Shepherd as he leads you?
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for revealing yourself to us through the Word, your Son. Thank you for the word written down so that we can read it and grow in knowing you. Thank you for your Spirit who keeps speaking your word into the situations we face in our lives. Amen.
Charles is a retired engineer who has worked on communications projects for the Air Force, Army and Navy. He lives in a retirement village in the outer north-western suburbs of Sydney with his wife, Diane. Together they have four children and eight grandchildren whom they love spending time with. He keeps himself busy with their pot plants, community vegetable garden, researching his family history and volunteering at LifeWay Lutheran Church.