“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:7-10)
Jesus is the door. If sheep or shepherd wants in to the kingdom of God, to the pastures of Beshan and Gilead, then they go through Jesus. Only in him and through him are found the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
Jesus speaks about thieves and robbers coming before him, but the sheep did not listen to them. The Old Testament is filled with God’s anger toward the shepherds of Israel who grow fat off the sheep while the sheep suffer. These are the leaders of Israel, both the political leaders and the high priests. The sheep didn’t listen to them. The sheep would listen to the prophets who would denounce the unjust ways of the leaders. Neither would the sheep listen to the Pharisees, the Sadducees or the High Priests in Jesus day, those whom Jesus has at the forefront of his mind here. Those who would lay upon the people the burden of law and would not lift a finger to help them. They come only to steal and kill and destroy because this is the work of the law. Jesus says he comes for a different reason, that they, the sheep may have life and have it abundantly.
Have life abundantly. This isn’t the picture people have of Christianity today. Christians are perceived as being uptight, smiling, but uptight and miserable, desiring to share their misery with others. I saw a bit of this last night in relation to an article on Nadia Bolz-Weber. People were more concerned with the way she dressed and the fact that she had tattoos and cussed than anything in the article that hinted she might not actually believe scripture or be teaching false doctrine. One person said she dresses like the people I try to avoid! Now there are individuals, I admit, whom I try to avoid after a while. I find I just don’t get along with them. They tend to be the Christians trying to avoid people dressed like Nadia. Jesus ate and drank with sinners, but the middle class has taken over his church to train kids in virtue ethics so they will avoid sinners, and make the place uncomfortable for them on Sunday morning. Of course, I ran into this a bit the other way reading Nadia’s article where she was a bit perturbed by “normal” people coming to her church, as if the tattoo was mandatory.
It’s all got to go by the wayside. Jesus died for every last one of us despite our sin. Some of us have the sin of being uptight, perhaps we tread to the right of the law. “You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” (Deut. 5:32) This means we aren’t actually free to make up new laws and bind consciences to the whims of what we deem politically correct that day. We aren’t allowed to scorn others for tattoos, or scorn them for the lack of tattoos. We aren’t allowed to make Christianity a concern about polite or impolite language. We aren’t allowed to turn Christianity into AA or the bar either. But it is about Christ who came to forgive sinners and give them life that they may have it abundantly. So church should be a place for sinners to come together as one, a place that embraces the entire community regardless of an individual’s sin. And by embrace I do not mean that they condone the sin, but realize it is forgiven as theirs is forgiven. The gospel, it is for sinners.