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the normality of change

As we increasingly abide in Jesus Christ, live in that heart, see through those eyes, we begin to notice a strange paradox. We the sheep begin to take on the nature of the Shepherd! Every metaphor and parable has its limits, and this story in John 10 puts us in the role of sheep. Sheep are not notable for their charm or intelligence. They are singularly clueless. They wander off and get lost. They eat poisonous weeds. They fall into ravines. They graze at the same spot until they strip it of all grass and pollute the ground. (Actually, this does sound like a lot of us humans!) At best, sheep are neither exciting nor creative. Is this really the way God sees us? Does God want us to be, at best, submissive sheep?

Not at all. Jesus told many other stories that reveal humans as complex and potentially creative sons and daughters of God. We are not just to be obedient animals for all eternity. This story enters on the deep love, and trust, the bond, and the discerning recognition of the characteristics of the shepherd. This particular story does not emphasize the tremendous paradoxical truth that we the sheep change. In our shepherding role to others—as parent, teacher, caregiver, counselor, listening friend—we begin to guide as we have been guided. Our faces and voices will change. The way we listen and respond will change, not through imitation but spontaneously through deep love. “When he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

 —Flora Slosson Wuellner, “Enter by the Gate”

I wonder how often it’s noticed of us that the salute on our lives is easily discerned and attributed to that “deep love” of Jesus’ influence. Have our “faces and voices” been changed by His holy love? Is it noticeable… is it visible… tangible? Is it practically evident to those who catch a glimpse of the “real us” outside of religious environments? —MDP

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