My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,
and no one will snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:27–28
We were on the way home and a question came from the backseat:
Mom, what is ministry meeting?
Do I have to listen?
No, not yet.
But I have to listen in Gospel meeting. because I’m not saved.
Do you have to listen in Gospel meeting?
Why? You’re saved.
Because it is good for Christians to hear the Gospel. It reminds me of what I believe and what God has done for me.
So you don’t forget and worship other gods.
If a Christian worships other gods, can they still go to heaven?
Yes. Once you’re a Christian you can’t not be a Christian, no matter what you do.
But even if you stop worshiping God?
Yes, Elise. Jesus died and paid for all my sin, even after I am saved. Once I am saved, I can’t stop being safe in God.
This conversation was heartbreaking and comforting at the same time.
Little does she know that idols — gods — are not simply identified in our world. They are not covered in gold and sitting in shrines surrounded by loud worship and heady incense. They are quiet, subtle and even comforting. They are just as much a part of our homes and lives as a small living room shrine would be, only they do not take up physical space in our homes. They take up time, attention and affection. They are our pet sins that bring us a bit of pleasure. Just a bit on a Friday evening. They are the relief of “checking out” for a while. They start as legitimate things — health, wellness and careful living. And insidiously become obsessions with health or exercise or youth. We seek the fountain of youth as surely as we should be seeking the Kingdom. Or maybe they come in the form of an innocent friendship in the workplace that flirts with being more… more and not so innocent. Or maybe they are dressed up better — “concern” about the future that has really grown into anxiety and fear that erodes our faith and blinds us to how big God really is. They do not rob God on Sunday morning, per say, because we are still present and worshiping… but they insidiously compromise the quality of our worship.
They are simple things… things that we conveniently keep in the corners of our hearts and attention… that slowly and surely become our gods. So many are good and healthy things, as long as they are not given the throne in our hearts!
I listened to my daughter’s words, and knew the pain of them that she doesn’t know yet… and I was so relieved to answer with hope.
Hope that burns in my own soul, a candle in the darkness of my own sin — Once I am a Christian, I can’t not be a Christian. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
I know His voice. I know that the voice of others are not His. He has promised me that I will never, ever be snatched out of his hand. It doesn’t matter how far I go following my sins and pleasures. There is never a point where I am unreachable. Thank the Lord, I am secure in Him. Secure even from myself.
Oh the generous vulnerability of the place He takes! To promise forgiveness to the wayward Christian with the grace and fullness as if I had never sinned! And CAN do this… because he suffered so deeply. I wander away easily — cheaply, subtly, simply. And I return and know the fullness of his forgiveness and grace. The whole detour did not cost me much. But oh the depth and darkness of suffering He went through to pay for my sin. It draws me out in worship for the suffering shepherd. That one that followed me while I was wandering from one tuff of grass to another. One clump of “innocent” pleasure to another, never knowing the looming danger of the wolf that stalked me. He not only saw, he came after me. Not only stood firm in the face of the wolf when others would have fled… He laid down his life for me.
No one. No one will snatch me out of his hand. Not even me.