Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism (CGO)
The question that I have been asked probably more than any other in the last three years of my life is, “Where are you from?” That is one of the hardest questions for me to answer. I was born in Buffalo, NY (Go Bills!), but I haven't lived there since I was twelve. In fact, by the age of four, I had lived in three different countries. My parents moved us first to Quebec to learn French, and then to Togo to be missionaries. After returning to Buffalo, the Lord directed my dad into Christian education. The summer before my freshmen year of high school my dad accepted an administrative position in Sellersville, Pennsylvania. I would graduate from that school, but once again, during my junior year of college here at Bob Jones, my parents moved to Anderson, South Carolina. Now, my parents live in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
I haven't lived in my parents’ house for any considerable amount of time since high school, but when people ask, “Where’s home?” I have no idea what to tell them. Surely, they aren’t looking for that lengthy answer. After all, they asked for my home, not my biography. So, what is my life story? It can’t be a simple answer of locations. However, as I think of myself as the man without a home, I am reminded of how Jesus viewed people, “like sheep without a shepherd.” My life story relates well to the analogy of sheep. Often, I have wandered and felt the Good Shepherd’s loving and corrective rod and staff guiding me back to the path he has set for me to follow.
Most of you reading this have probably grown up in a Christian family and a Bible-believing church. But following Jesus is not always the popular or even acceptable thing to do. Perhaps this is how the waters of true Christianity have become so muddied in our society with its religious freedom. In a culture that is hostile towards Jesus, Christians don't follow out of convenience. Such was the case 2,000 years ago when John recalls Jesus claim, "I Am the Good Shepherd."
There was much division over what to believe about Jesus, and many of the Jews were ready to convict Jesus of blasphemy and be done with him that very day. It was in this context that Jesus says some of the most assuring words for true disciples. In John 10:27-28 reads, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Unfortunately, many times we are tempted to speed past verse 27 to get to verse 28. The incredible promise of verse 28 only applies to the sheep of verse 27. If we would have Jesus hold us in the palm of his hand, we must first follow him.
I'm afraid there are many who claim the title of Christian that believe they can come to an intersection and collide with the Good Shepherd and then turn and pursue the path of their careers and dreams never to follow the Good Shepherd down the way he leads. True followers of Jesus Christ are sheep that turn from their path to follow Jesus down the path he leads. This means Christ’s mission becomes your mission. Christ's path becomes your path. Christ’s cross becomes your cross (Gal. 2:20). Christ’s last command was to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe everything Jesus had commanded them. It is every disciple's mission to carry this out. Whether you are a businessman in New York, a farmer in Nebraska, a church planter in California, or a college student in Greenville, God has called you to reach beyond yourself to make disciples and to teach them to obey the commands of Christ.
That is what it looks like to follow Jesus and to hear him say “I know them.” An interaction with Jesus does not necessarily equal eternal life. Look at the crowd in John 6. One day they were eating miracle fish and bread, and the next day they turned around never to follow Jesus again. True followers of Christ are disciples that have taken up their cross. To take up our cross means to pursue our God-given mission to make disciples no matter the cost. We’ve heard the voice of the Great Shepherd. He knows all his sheep by name. Each one of us must decide to follow Christ today. Yes, some will probably pass through the valley of the shadow of death, but Christ is with each one of his sheep. Therefore, we follow on, making Christ's mission our pursuit. Those are the sheep that Christ says, "I give them eternal life."
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.