Muhammad Ali, winner of the heavyweight championship of the world, has been seen as the greatest boxer of all time by many. But aside from boxing, he was also engaged in several other careers. One of the most notable was his social activism, which helped to foster his iconic status.
He was quoted as saying, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” So while many loved him and others hated him, he certainly would not argue the claim that he was indeed the greatest. In fact, he gave himself the nickname “The Greatest.” It’s unsure whether the so-called black Superman was more notorious for his exceptional boxing talents or his ego.
One day, Ali was taking a plane flight, and he refused to wear his seatbelt. When confronted by the flight attendant and asked to buckle up he replied, “Superman don’t need no seatbelt.” To which the attendant shot back, “Superman don’t need no airplane.”
If we are not careful, a similar arrogance can creep into all of our Christian lives. Intellectually, we talk about Jesus, who is the God man and can still perform the impossible today. But when we find ourselves in a tight situation, Satan whispers in our ears, “You’d better make your own plans. That God stuff doesn’t work.” If we listen to Satan, though, our eyes gradually shift from a dependence upon Jesus, and we begin to try on the glasses of self-reliance.
In other words, our feelings drive us further from the Lord, and rather than looking to Christ for answers, our doubts often lead us into a maze of questions. Then we are faced with a dangerous and scary situation, for when complacency motivates us, we begin to sink into the quicksand of despair.
I am not proud of this, but I’ve had to ask God to forgive me for this kind of attitude many times. We all find ourselves in precarious situations, however, and we feel like the proverbial rug has been pulled out from underneath us. But when we are dangling from the thread of uncertainty, Jesus is the lifeline of scripture. He only asks that we cling to Him for comfort and strength.
Explaining this further, He drew this word picture of himself in the book of John.
“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.” (John 10:9, NKJV)
Since sheep are not animals that most of us are familiar with, though, it’s easy to miss the subtle nuances here. In biblacal days, shepherds wore many hats. They were certainly guides with their rods and staffs, but they were also healers, giving the sheep medicine when they were unwell. Finally, they were protectors who guarded their sheep and kept wild beasts and thieves away.
At night, after the sheep were all accounted for, they were herded into a pen. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds, because sometimes the shepherd would have to look for hours to find one lost sheep. Then, after giving it any care that it needed, he would carry it home on his shoulders.
Interestingly, the pen which he carried it home to didn’t have a door. The shepherd would lie down in front of the pen and bar the opening with his own body. In this way, he paid the ultimate cost, and he kept the sheep from harm.
We are the sheep which Jesus spoke about, and He is the guide and protector who gave His life for us. But that isn’t all–He is our door of hope, who rose on the third day.
So even when you feel abandoned and alone while you’re going through one of life’s desert places, Jesus invites you to come to the oasis of God’s Word. He is a solid rock you can depend on, and this fact will refresh and strengthen you like nothing else can, for in God you will find the story of the Good Shepherd’s love.
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