The praise and worship time was truly uplifting. One of the gentleman played the violin beautifully. It's rare to hear the violin being played so masterfully in a church setting, and I found my heart singing praises to God as I worshiped in song.
This is the thing that impressed me the most: I was among family members. I was with fellow Christians on the journey towards the celestial city. There was a familiarity that is only experienced in interacting with other believers. It's a recognition that this is my brother; this is my sister.
In the book of John, Jesus describes Himself in many ways - the Bread of Life, Living Water, the Light of the World, the Way, the Truth, the Gate, and the Good Shepherd. In the beginning of John 10, He rebukes the Pharisees who have been challenging His leadership, saying He must have a demon. The listeners must have been confused, wondering who to believe. The Pharisees, who had the appearance of being spiritual leaders, well respected in the community, or this obscure man who taught so differently, speaking in allegory and common words in order to explain the deep truths of God.
Truly, truly. Jesus often began His teaching with these words after interactions with the Pharisees. He was saying in effect, "the religious authorities have told you something, but here's the truth. Listen to Me."
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.Someone who does not enter the sheepfold by the door is a thief and a robber. A thief is someone who sneaks in, climbing over the wall with stealth, intending to steal and harm. A robber is a step more violent than a thief - he does it all by force. The Shepherd goes through the door legitimately, because he has a right to be there.
(John 10:1-6 ESV)
Shepherds in the middle east would call their sheep by name. The sheep would respond only to their own Shepherd. Even though there were multiple flocks inside the sheepfold, the sheep would only follow their own Shepherd, listening for His voice and following Him wherever He led.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep. He speaks to us though His word, leading and protecting us at all times. Yet we must be on guard, especially in this postmodern age where we are taught that there are no absolute truths, that morals vary according to cultural norms, and that those who think they actually know the truth are arrogant human beings. Even some churches would hold to the opinion that believers must mold themselves to the culture in order to reach the people. It's the same lie that Satan tried with Eve in the Garden of Eden... "Hath God said?"
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV)
We are dumb, defenseless sheep who require constant oversight, leading and rescuing.
That's why we need a Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd leads His sheep with His voice - the Bible, God's Word, the Truth.
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.
There is no safer place for a Christian to be than to be listening to the Voice of His Shepherd, His Saviour, Jesus.