Monday, June 28, 2010

Why are You a Door?!

I went to a pastor’s spiritual retreat a few months ago. Luckily I work at a church where our entire staff was encouraged to go to this all-day reflective retreat. One of the exercises was to pick one of Jesus’ “I AM” statements, and really meditate on it. (Here’s a quick list I found) So I picked the statement: “I Am the Door.” If I am honest, I picked this one because I could not figure out what it meant, nor could I remember its context. Since it was a pastor’s retreat, I came up with a more spiritual reason for picking it. Something like, “I was really drawn to that one!”

I ended up spending several hours meditating on John 10 where Jesus describes Himself as the shepherd. Although I have always enjoyed this passage, John 10:9-10, where Jesus refers to Himself as the gate (or door), really hit me in a new way

9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The part that stuck out to me the most was the second half of verse 9. I grew up in a more legalistic environment. I’m not throwing my childhood church or my parents under the bus whatsoever because I had an amazing childhood. Every restriction I was given as a kid was saturated in love. But the reality is, when you grow up in Amish country, the entire culture is focused a bit more on the “do’s and don’ts”.

When I first imagine the wall around my grazing area (I’m in character… I’m a sheep!!), my gut reaction is to think of it as restrictive. I chose to be a Christian, so I need to stay in my area. If I look over the wall, I can see the other sheep playing kickball, high-fiving, and laughing so hard they are crying. They get to do whatever they want and have a blast! When I ask Jesus if I can go out and play, He lets me know that He loves me, but I can’t partake in those activities. I need to focus on my math homework. I basically looked at the guidelines and boundaries in my life as a test from God to see if I really loved Him. Not really any meaning behind them, just random things to follow. If I really love God, I will show Him by blindly following His rules. Since Jesus died for me, I should not have a desire to have fun!

But Jesus says, “They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Nothing is forced! The sheep are free to come and go! What?! There is freedom? This has been one of the most monumental learning’s for me in my adult years. Verse 9 and verse 10 are related. Our fulfillment in life, which God came to give us, is directly linked to the wall constructed around us. Yet this wall has an opening, and we are free to leave whenever we want.

But the more I have examined the wall, and each “law” or “commandment” which are piled up to make this wall, I’ve started to see the boundaries are not restrictive for arbitrary sake. They are invitational. God’s commandments invite us to trust Him with our lives. Each commandment is there for our ultimate well-being. They are placed there because God loves us dearly and wants us to experience the most fulfilling and exciting life possible. Although it does not make sense to us at times, and may not seem as attractive as the fleeting and momentary happiness we see around us, it is true! If God was willing to sacrifice His Son in order to have a relationship with us, we have to trust that His laws are tied to that love. He wouldn’t die in our place to merely have the ability to test our love and obedience. He invites us to trust Him because He has proven without a doubt that He is worthy of our trust and He has our best intentions in mind. It’s an invitation with freedom, not a command with judgment. Jesus is the unlocked door.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen Eric!!! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and wisdom! Love it and can't wait to see your fam this fall!! - Shelly