‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.’
– John 10:1-5
The Religious Right have not only falsified the transcript, they’ve altered the recording!
I bang on about the Religious Right a fair bit, I’ll admit. It’s all through my blogs. Chiefly because I feel I’m one of a minority within evangelicalism that recognises just how insidious and malodorous their political doctrine is, and that they are winning the cultural war for the hearts of God’s people. Jesus explained to the Pharisees in the passage above how a sheep knows it’s master’s voice – that of the shepherd, and Jesus goes on to say that he is both the gate and ‘the good shepherd’. His sheep know his voice and must listen for and follow only him; he gave us some warnings about false voices: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matt. 7:15).
Why is it, then, that sometimes we get distracted and listen to other voices, mistaking it for his? You think we don’t? It’s very easy, actually, when you think about it. Too often we vaunt someone as a great church pastor or leader and ascribe to them and their voice a divinity that we must follow, since we wish to look up to them and emulate their ‘holiness’ – we do not hear Jesus’ voice audibly (at least only very occasionally – I’ve only heard it once!) but we do hear others clearly. Being able to discern when a preacher is talking with the words of Christ and when not (since they are imperfect and cannot always do so), is vital for us to have a closeness to The Way and a relationship with The Life that equips us to do the discerning. How? fairly easily, actually; by reading the gospels. The words of Jesus are there in black and white (and in some bibles even highlighted in red), and if we read them and heed them, we get to know his voice, and thus we can stop ourselves listening when we hear another voice pretending to be holy. Such an occurrence was the basis for my very first blog!
If you haven’t really read through them, why not try the Sermon on the Mount for starters? From the 5th chapter of Matthew’s gospel to the end of the 7th, picture yourself sitting or standing on that mountainside listening to the authority that this man spoke with as he laid out his blueprint for his kingdom and how we must live in it. If you really think it through and try to apply it, it will blow your mind with its radically unnatural way of viewing things that is so against our human nature, but so divine!
So it is also with political voices! We have allowed certain pundits to make two issues the only political points that they try to tell us that Christians need to be concerned with; abortion and same-sex marriage, to the detriment of practically every other issue or manifesto pledge or ideology. And so many have arisen who pay lip service to these mantras, whether they truly believe in denouncing them or not, to get the ‘Christian vote’: They start to sound like they hold ‘Christian values’. Before you know it, you’re hanging on every word they are saying, convincing yourself that they must be Christian values too!
A Facebook Friend altered a photo I posted very easily and reposted it for me; you’d think it was an original photo but it was false. Videos can now be doctored to portray something false too; films can be made with actors long dead portrayed by CGI programming. There must be software that can alter voice recordings and make it sound like someone is saying words they never said. When I realise that some politicians are actually not even paying lip service to these great Christian political pillars that they must do to be part of the circle, yet I hear of Christians following them, thinking they are speaking as with the mind of God, that is when I know that they are not just changing the wording on a transcript but are altering Jesus’ voice to make it sound just like them!
Once you know your own bible, and read the words of Jesus over and over to yourself, then you can compare the statements of those you are asked to vote for, and know when you are hearing a reflection of his voice coming from anyone else. It’s really only a matter of ‘What would Jesus say?’
Grace be with you.