Abundant Life

I remember the days when my older 3 children were all small and I would come home from work and they would come running to the front door yelling daddy daddy! They listened to everything I said and thought I knew everything. They believed everything I said and did everything that I told them to do, our relationship was sweet and precious. As they grew older and were being taught at school by their friends that there’s another way to look at things, our relationship became somewhat frustrating at times. It’s hard to get people to see the truth when they want so badly to believe in another way. I know how frustrating this was for me as a parent, I can’t imagine how it might’ve been for Jesus. One thing I did not do so well as a parent when I was younger is keep my cool. I did not like my authority or my knowledge and wisdom being questioned by teenagers. When worst came to worst, my default mechanism was to just lay the law down! Yeah, that really worked well for me.

I’m not exactly sure when it was but, my children were still pretty young, I realized that when they’re not home, they’re going to do whatever they want to do anyway, just like I did at their age. My power, control and influence was limited, maybe nonexistent. I really didn’t have any power or control over what they were going to do or say. I could however, influence them if I was willing to listen to what they were saying and try to understand where they were coming from. Sometimes that meant that I didn’t even get to suggest what I believed, depending on the circumstance, they weren’t going to listen to anything I said anyway. After all, they knew everything from their friends at school. My willingness to listen with a desire to understand, I have found, gives me greater influence in life whether I’m dealing with family, friends, coworkers ect….

I always tried to be a good shepherd with my family, I like keeping the sheep together, at times they have scattered. Jesus was a good shepherd and he taught well. Jesus’ teaching often confused people. Sometimes it confused everybody. He was often criticized because many did not understand what he was saying and many did not want his words to be true, they wanted what they and their friends said, to be true. How many times in His ministry did He come to realize that not even His disciples were understanding what He was saying, but He continued to teach well and help them understand. One of Jesus’ strengths was that he always knew where people were coming from within their heart. As I interact with others it’s important that I listen to what they’re saying with a desire to understand where they’re coming from in their heart. It’s important, no matter who we are interacting with, that we try to understand where people are coming from. We might have opposite views on politics, religion, Covid and vaccines but if I’m going to be a good shepherd on this earth, I need to love well. For the most part, unless you’re saying something terrible about God, I don’t care if we have opposite opinions. But it’s important that I understand why you feel differently about those topics, this helps me to better interact with those people. Jesus at times could be confrontational as he pointed out the hypocrisy coming from the religious leaders of His day, but He never laid the law down, He never suggested it was His way or the highway. However, He did teach that His way was the only way. Jesus wants the best for us, He tells us so in John 10:10b

“I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”