The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the
gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. 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"
If you do not have caller ID, and you pick up the phone
when it rings, you cannot be certain who will be at the other end. At the sound of a
familiar voice, we immediately begin to make associations that will stir feelings,
thoughts or questions, based on the knowledge of who the person is on the other end of the
phone. But let it be the voice of a stranger and we are full of questions more than
anything. One of our first thoughts may be, "OK, what is this person going to try to
sell me?" A stranger's voice often generates a level of curiosity within us that is
most likely balanced with cautious listening and carefully chosen responses. But let the
voice of the stranger become the familiar and accepted, and the guard is often dropped.
Perhaps, even when it is not wise to let it do so.
Within our world today, there are many voices calling to us to do this or that, or to
think this or that. We hear voices that declare godless activities to be acceptable.
Voices that become louder and louder until they penetrate the walls of the church--until
the church one day begins to somewhat agree. We hear voices that loudly promote
self-promotion, self-awareness, and self-esteem in such a way as to declare each person as
his or her own god--suggesting they can be all they need to be in and of themselves. We
hear voices that nag and pressure us to be like the majority. They tell us to be careful
not to be different, radical or to be too righteous so as not to offend anyone. They press
in on every side until we are molded and shaped after the image of man's ideal of the
ideal man--based solely on social norms and popular opinion.
But these are the voices of strangers. They are not the voice of Christ, though some will
seek to resemble His voice and lure us in. But is it possible for we who are in Christ to
be lured in by the voices that are not His? In Matthew 24:24, Jesus says, "For there
shall arise false Christ's, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders;
inasmuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect." It is not
only possible, but probable that many who claim to hear the voice of Christ, are actually
following the voices of this world. In as much as we compromise the standards of God for
ideals more suitably palatable to our society, we follow the voices of the strangers, and
no longer recognize the voice of our true Master, Jesus Christ.
But who is our master if we claim to follow Jesus, but we yield to the voices of society
and allow them to shape our thinking? Jesus tells us that "No one can serve two
masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one
and despise the other" (Mt.6:24). We either yield to the voices of the stranger, or
we yield to the voice of Christ. We cannot hear Christ's voice and yet follow the world.
The voice we hear is the one we follow.
Can you hear Christ's voice? What does He say to you about money and material wealth? What
are His words concerning abortion, divorce, premarital sex, euthanasia, etc.? Do you know
what He says about these things? Do you believe that God's desires and man's ideals line
up, or do they sharply contrast? Can you hear His voice right now? What is He saying to
you? Be careful you are not deceived by the voices of the world around you--Christ's voice
has a distinct sound that separates it from the world we live in. Is that sound the ring
of the familiar to you? Or are you unsure what Christ's words are because the voices of
this world and this age have become the familiar voice to you, rather than His voice?
Who's voice will you follow?