A Stranger's Voice

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" (Jn.10:2-5).

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?

Day by Day Devotionals: www.daybyday.org