Friday, August 19, 2016

Two Voices

This week’s “Ask Father” is a follow-up to last week’s “What is God’s Plan?” Following last week’s answer I was approached by several people challenging my position on God’s plan. Since I always want to maintain a dialogue about the teachings of the Church, this week I will pause our “Ask Father” series and address some of follow-up issues that several have mentioned.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10.10) This quote from our Lord is often used to claim that God wants us to live comfortably and without struggle. Jesus was not speaking about life as the world knows it. He was comparing Himself to the enemy. Here is the full quote:

“Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10.7-11)

There are two voices in the world – the voice of God and the voice of the enemy. The abundant life that God promises is eternal communion with Him in Heaven. There can never be anything more abundant than God’s loving embrace for all eternity. Christ left a voice, HIS voice – The Church, when He returned to His Throne. Any other voice seeks to steal and kill and destroy. But we don’t have to be afraid.

A world without fear is not the same as a world without struggle and suffering. Consider the story of Peter walking on water. The disciples were in the middle of the sea “tossed by the waves” when they saw what they thought was a ghost. They were terrified when Jesus said, “"Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." (Matthew 14.27)He did not say, “Ok, I’ll make the waves go away.” He did not say, “Just believe in me and everything will be smooth sailing.” Peter said, “"Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." (Matthew 14.28)

This story is really important to understanding the difference between what the world calls an abundant life and what God calls an abundant life. During the entire time Peter was on the water, the waves were beating against him, but as Peter set his eyes on Christ, he walked out on the stormy waves. It wasn’t until Peter took his eyes of Christ that he began to sink. So long as Peter focused all his attention on Christ, he never noticed how the waves were beating against him. He struggle was bearable because his eyes were on Christ.

God’s plan isn’t that the waves don’t come, but that we can live focused on God and not take notice of the waves. Any voice that says “LOOK OVER HERE! I can teach you how to avoid the waves,” is a voice that is calling your attention away from God and toward the waves. Just as Peter sank when he noticed the waves, you will sink if you focus on the waves rather than God.

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