Jesus Christ leads his people by speaking. He does not manipulate us nor does he rig the circumstances of our lives to produce an intended outcome. Instead, Jesus invites us into a relationship with him, and directs us through holy conversation. Jesus used the analogy of a shepherd who leads the sheep by speaking.
“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go 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. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” V27: My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
So why does hearing the voice of Christ seem so very difficult?
Hearing the voice of Christ is particularly hard in the modern world. There are many distractions that pull our attention away; so much busyness that fills our lives, so many voices demanding our attention. In order to hear the voice of Christ, we will need to employ some simple yet essential tactics.
Begin by Taking Out the Trash.
Our minds were made for beautiful things. Our culture fills our minds with ugly things. In order to better hear the voice of Christ, we should empty our minds of the trashy things we accumulate.
Sometimes, our lives are much too cluttered with unnecessary things. We fill our minds with a multitude of thoughts and ideas that bring little blessing. We can hear the voice of Christ better when we reduce the number of things our mind must focus on.
Honestly, we are moving way too fast. We run from one activity to another in a frantic pace, and collapse exhausted at the end of the day. It is hard to slow down, but doing so will help us hear better.
Hearing the voice of Christ requires our intention. Simply clearing our minds is insufficient. We must actively pay attention. Active listening is a difficult task, but in time, we can become more proficient.