In John 10:3-5, Jesus is telling the disciples a parable about the Good Shepherd:
'The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Immediately I read that, the Holy Spirit whispered "Recognition initiates response". In the parable, the Shepherd calls out to the sheep with an assurance that they will respond because they know His voice. The reason why He is so confident that they will respond is that he himself knows them intimately and knows that they listen to Him. So he doesn't fear that they will be lost and even if they are, he knows once he calls out to them, they will answer.
Nobody responds to the voice of a stranger. When we do not recognize a face or voice, we walk in the opposite direction. If a child is lost at a grocery store he/she will panic until they are found by someone they know. When they hear a familiar voice, they are at peace and walk in the direction of that voice. Parallel this parable with our lives as believers in a world where so many people have an opinion on how we should live. The Bible tells us that there is only one way to obtain salvation, only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ, His Son. Salvation and spiritual security can be found in no other than Him.
The Father knows those who are His and knows that when he calls out, they will answer. Why? because they recognize His voice, and because they recognize His voice, they will follow his leading. This is the life of a believer. To respond to the call of God through Jesus Christ to salvation.
The oxford dictionary defines recognition as: "identification of someone or something or person from previous encounters or knowledge". To recognize something or someone, there has to be some kind of interaction or understanding of that person or thing to some degree. It doesn't just happen. The same thing goes for us as believers. For us to recognize the call or voice of God, we have to have an encounter with Him through intimate fellowship with Him. It can't be fulfilled by just merely hearing someone talk about what He has done or their encounter with Him. Even if we can slightly recognize Him based on that, we won't know how to respond.
"I am the Good Shepherd, and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me]— ' John 10:14
God calls out to us in the midst of our sin to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus. Anybody can have an opinion on which way to take and how to live our lives but if their opinions do not stand firm against the word of God then they are void. There is only ONE way, THE way to the Father and that is Jesus. The way is hard, it is narrow, not everyone will find it, but it is the only way that leads to true abundant life [Matthew 7:14]. This is not to scare you nor to push you away, but to bring you awareness and to encourage you. Though the way may be difficult, Jesus modeled it and gave us the power through His Holy Spirit to follow Him. Through a deep and personal relationship with Jesus, we can recognize His voice, we can know His ways. We can trust His Character and can have faith in His goodness.
To the seasoned believer - It may look like you are not getting ahead. It may get difficult but you have his promise and God is faithful. Sometimes it may feel lonely, redundant, stagnant but in His presence, there is fullness of Joy. Keep on persevering that you may obtain that which He has prepared for you. You have known His voice, you have recognized His call, you have responded. Keep on responding to Him. He is the only one who is able to keep you from falling into sin and will present you blameless to himself at the end.
To the one on the fence - Don't you get tired of going back and forth? Are you not tired of dabbling in sin? You have tasted and seen that He is good, there is nothing on the other side that can compare. There is nothing to be afraid of, Jesus holds all things together. There is nothing that you will lose or give up for Him that He will not honor, acknowledge, and replace. Settle down and lay at the feet of Jesus.
To the unbeliever - Jesus loves you. How do I know? Look at the cross. God, who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up freely so that you and I may be reconciled to him is real. The solution, peace, life, and answers that you seek can be found in Jesus. Just look to the cross. Will you respond? You do not have to be a slave to sin and your flesh any longer. You do not have to fear death and hell, for in Jesus there is perfect love and perfect love cast out all fear.
God bless you,
Sandra Adeyemi xo