Thursday, May 18, 2006

Security and Significance

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep."
John 10.14-15

Security and significance -- those are the two crucial longings of humanity. In other words, we want to feel loved and to feel important. In this passage, Jesus addresses both longings.

First he says he knows you and me. This is a bigger deal than if some CEO or movie star or president knows you. When we lived in Japan, our pastor Rob told us about something that happened when he was a little boy. He was on the beach, looking at shells and such, when a man walked up to him and started talking to him about sea life - plants and animals and shells.

At one point, Rob looked up and saw a bunch of other men standing a little ways off. Rob later learned that he had been talking to the Showa Emperor.

Whenever people hear about this, they get very excited and ask Rob all about it. Imagine - talking to a big-shot like the Emperor!

But you and I know a bigger shot than that. We know the ruler of the universe. We can talk to him any time we want, about whatever we want, and he always listens! He knows you and me by name, and he knows our joys, our longings, our sorrows.

How about the security then? Jesus is the good shepherd. Even if a sheep sometimes feels lonely, knowing that the shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep must give those sheep a sense of being cared for and loved unconditionally.

And that's the case for us -- Jesus not only would but did lay down his life for us his sheep.

Unfortunately I don't just read that and believe it and live my life according to it; I somehow make it complicated. I want other people to love me, not just Jesus. I want other people to know me, know about my accomplishments, tell me I'm great - not "just" Jesus.

He is the only one who will love me without conditions, no matter what. Everyone around me will die one day (so will I, come to think of it), but he lives forever.

So why is it that I still long for other people's love and approval?

A wise friend once told me that part of it is because the way Jesus shows his love for me is often through other people -- that's how I experience his love and acceptance. So it's natural to get confused sometimes.

I guess I need help from him to keep my vision clear.

"everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself, just as he is pure"


No comments: