Who are you following?
March 8, 2020
Cheesecake. I had read a story about it in an article online. Now my mind couldn’t shake the image of a thick golden crust beneath a cream-colored mountain of heaven. Before reading the story, I was not thinking about cheesecake at all. In fact, having decided to cut back on my sweet intake, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Yet hours after reading the piece, it was all I could think about. I was getting some, the only question was from where. After I had eaten my delicious cheesecake and derailed the day’s eating goals, I couldn’t help but marvel at just how susceptible I had been to suggestion. The episode became a personal revelation in human susceptibility.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as critical thinkers who make decisions about our lives based on our own independent analyses, but we are really quite far from that. Humans are vulnerable creatures who can be led this way or that as the advertising industry well knows. A question, comment, pitch or disapproving look from the right person or people can make us question or change our goals, plans, political and religious views, clothing and eating choices, and even our identity. The critical voice of a parent, teacher or other influential person can cause us to give up on our God-given dreams, abort great ideas, reject a promising love, or spend our lives chasing dreams that are not our own. Sometimes even lyrics from a beautiful love song can plant thoughts in our minds that leave us wondering if the man or woman who faithfully snores beside us every night should occupy the spot!
Because the wrong voices can derail, even destroy our lives, it is critical that we pay attention and assess the source and quality of the voices to which we listen. In Eve’s case, the dangerous voice came in the form of a question. “Did God say…?” the serpent asked. The question planted doubt where none had existed and before long she and Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit, a costly mistake with devastating consequences.
Jesus advised his followers to follow the right voice and flee from the wrong ones (John 10: 4-5). They do this by staying close to the “Good Shepherd,” learning from and about Him, living carefully (not suspiciously!) and always assessing whether those clever, reasonable, “deep,” sophisticated, “practical,” “progressive,” or “traditional” arguments, ideas or paths that are offered them everyday are in line with His voice and desires for their lives. Following His voice keeps his sheep on the right, though sometimes challenging path, away from danger, and into green pastures.
John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”