All grown-up legs look alike to small children. I remember when I was little walking in the store with my mom. After a few minutes I looked up and realized this was not my mom! There was a smile on the strangers face and she gently said, “Well, hello!” No matter how friendly she seemed, the moment was still horrifying. I quickly looked around and found my mother. I ran to her.
John 10:3-5 “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
We’ve all heard this illustration. We all know that Jesus cares for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep. But something very important to understand about this analogy is that we choose to be the sheep. We have the choice to be drawn away from Jesus by a stranger or cared for by our loving master. But who is this stranger?
Every so often, someone will publish a book or appear on a talk show and offer us a whole new idea about “god”. Many times they will tell us that God is not going to judge us or He just wants us to be happy. We know from reading the Bible that these ideas are bogus. Instead of accepting who God is, they decide He needs a makeover.
This is the stranger. Not the people, the idea. It is the idea that God doesn’t fit our needs, so we either need to tweak Him a little or just leave Him out completely. It’s like we are ordering from a menu at a fast food restaurant: "I’ll take some super-sized love, with a side of blessings, hold the sacrifice and obligation."
So back to my experience as a child. I mistook a stranger for my mother but once I realized it was not her, I ran away. Maybe she would have bought me that toy my mother said no to. Or maybe she’d stop for some ice-cream that my mom said would spoil my appetite. That stuff didn’t even cross my mind. I knew my mother and this lady wasn’t her!
That is how God wants us to act to these strangers. Run away! Run back to him! But we can not recognize imposters if we don’t know who we’re worshiping. We learn about God by doing the two most important things to do in a day: pray and read the Bible. Just like I knew my mother because I spent time with her, we spend time with God to get to know Him.
As a grown-up, I’ve been in stores and kids will walk up to me thinking I am their mother. I smile and say, “Well, hello!” And it doesn’t hurt my feelings when they look up at me in shock. And I smile when they see their mother and run to her. I understand that they feel safe with her, just like we feel safe with our shepherd.