“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
How do you feel about active rebellion? I remember very well when I learned to jump over the fence at our house when I was 4 or 5. We were taught to do so because my parents didn’t want our dog to get out, but there was something in my soul that absolutely loved jumping over fences. The fact that I could look at the gate and completely ignore its purpose and make my own way over the fence was delightfully rebellious in my mind. Going through the gate was in fact significantly easier than the route I always chose instead, but there was something about the difficulty that I cherished. As I got older, I continued to love jumping over fences, but this love never led me to mischievous activities as you may imagine it would. I absolutely delight in rebellion, but I abhor getting into trouble. My friends in high school and college gave me plenty of nicknames to denote this paradox because I loved hanging out with the rougher crowd but I could not bring myself to participate in all of their shenanigans. I would always clam up and caution my comrades concerning the pitfalls of their actions and I was quite a bummer to have around, as you can imagine. As I left college, this rebellion manifested itself in different ways. When we travel with our kids, I see the need to caravan, but everything in my heart wants to break out of the given line of cars and forge my own way. God has blessed Good Shepherd with leaders who welcome questioning and correction from their subordinates, but I often use this open communication for humor or so I can feel like I am pushing against authority to do whatever I want. All of this rebellion rubs up against my role as a leader to our middle school students whom I expect to follow my rules as I discourage their rebellion.
So when Christ offers that He is the gate, I like the thought of walking in His given path, but I also can’t help but look at the height of the fence and think, “I can totally make that.” I want to find my own way around things, but I would rather avoid the consequences and the label of being a “thief and a robber”. My heart does not believe that you can simultaneously have life to the full and not push the boundaries set before you. Michael and I have this discussion in the office often because I love to look to Jesus as the great rebel against the oppressive laws of the Pharisees, but Michael, an avid rule keeper, sees Jesus as the perfect fulfillment of the law. I think both are true, but Jesus’ rebellion was much more productive than mine often is. I rebel against good authority to get out of my personal perceived restrictions, but Jesus rebelled against sinful authority to set His people free from the law of sin and death. I love the sound of my own voice more than the voice of my Shepherd. So ask yourself, where are you entrenched in rebellion for the sake of rebellion? Where are you listening to your own voice or the voices of others instead of your Shepherd’s voice? We have been invited into the fullness of life within the fold, but we want the perceived freedom of our own way. Come into the fold and experience the joy of community in Christ and embrace the gate that has been opened to us.