The Doors, The Doors!Fr. Barnabas Powell
OK, here’s the scene, Harrison Ford playing Indiana Jones, finally passes all the tests to get into the chamber where the ancient knight stands guard over the True Chalice used at the Last Supper by Christ.
The old knight, having taken a vow with his three brothers, to guard the Chalice forever, tells Indiana “Choose wisely.” And, well, you know what happens next.
The choices of our lives, both big and small, all contribute to two very important insights into our lives: They reveal what we truly value and consider important, AND they further or change the trajectory of our lives. Choices are important, unavoidable, and, to varying degrees, life changing.
So, how do you make good choices? Well, now isn’t that the million dollar question?
There are two ways we make choices: education and experience. Our choices are shaped by the information we gather through learning and reading and observing. And our choices are influenced by the actions we observe in others. The choices we make, the priorities we set for our lives, are shaped by our education and our experiences – what we know and what we see.
Where things get really tough is in the areas where our choices become automatic responses in our lives. These choices are so deeply ingrained in us that they become second nature. They are the default action we turn to in familiar and even unfamiliar situations. And it’s these choices that can really be problematic for our spiritual and emotional well being, especially if we don’t, from time to time, examine these choices, these habits, these behaviors, in the light of new education and experiences. As Socrates is supposed to have declared “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So, how do we learn to make good choices? How do we regularly examine our choices? And what measuring stick should we use to do this important work in our lives?
In today’s Gospel Lesson our Lord Jesus says “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:9-16
Here our Lord gives us the key to making the series of choices that actually wake us up to our truest selves and maintain His life in our daily lives.
First, He says He is the door. We use doors to enter and exit places. And that is just what Jesus Christ is to us. He is the Door we pass through to get into real life, AND He is the Door we pass through to escape a pattern of life that only leads to death! It’s not a philosophy. It’s not a political movement. It’s not even a religion per se. It’s a Person that we must confront if we are ever going to break the power of bad and unhelpful choices and behaviors that keep us enslaved to mere existence and not real LIFE! Confronting Christ as “the Door” we exit through repentance into true life AND “the Door” we enter into through participating in the sacramental life of His Church.
And make no mistake, this certainly is about finally learning how to really live. Because He goes on to reveal that the motivation and intention of the “evil one” is to do three things: steal life from you, kill you, and destroy you. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord puts “kill you” BEFORE “destroy.” It isn’t a mistake. Even if this body dies (which it will), the ultimate loss of true life is the destruction of any hope for true life in God forever. Learning how to prepare for our own mortality is absolutely essential if we are going to make good choices that lead to life. And being able to distinguish between the actions of the Lord and the actions of the “evil one” is necessary to navigate the choices of our lives.
Finally, the Lord reveals the key to good choices. “I know my own and my own know me.” Let’s face it, the folks who continually insist they are on the Lord’s side sound like they are trying a bit too hard to convince even themselves. Knowing Someone means you let your life speak for itself. Your actions, your choices, reveal Who you belong to and in Whom you place your trust.
Today, take just a moment to begin (or maybe continue) the process of a thorough inventory of your automatic choices. Put these choices under the bright Light of the real life of Christ. Allow His gentle, non judgmental, judgment to teach you through His good example and His wise insight to transform your automatic choices to life-giving decisions that fill up every aspect of your life with His life. And then let these life-giving patterns of your life spill out and over everyone around you. As we approach the Universe changing Event of the First Coming of Christ, let’s not miss this once-again opportunity to enter into “the Door” of true life! Let’s Choose Wisely!
P.S. What is the Mark of the Beast? Is it the codes on the milk carton we get at the store? Perhaps it’s our Social Security number. What about the Millenium? And that nasty Battle of Armageddon we keep hearing about? This Sunday join me and my special guest, His Grace Bishop David of the Diocese of Alaska on Faith Encouraged LIVE as we do a follow up to our very popular program on the Second Coming. This Sunday night at 8 PM Eastern on AncientFaith.com