Thresholds are funny things. American businessman Joseph B. Wirthlin once said “Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land.” Thresholds mark places where we are moving from one place to another. Now think about a threshold with a door! Now we are talking about mystery as well as passage from one place to another!
In the over-the-top popular kids movie “Frozen” we see Anna standing outside her sister’s room asking “Do you want to build a snowman?” (Don’t hate me if you get that song stuck in your head. I have two small daughters and this is the only music I am allowed to listen to!) The door between Anna and Elsa marks the major mystery in a once close sister relationship that has changed because of Elsa’s “condition.” But that closed door invited curiosity and pain as Anna wonders why her sister is now so distant.
But that’s the nature of thresholds and doors. They mark transition, opportunity, danger, mystery, and maybe even growth. They mark for us moving from one place to another and from one purpose to another. Thresholds mark our lives, our loves, and our direction. Thresholds and doors are important.
Look at our Gospel Lesson today. The Lord said, “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
Jesus describes Himself as “the door” (not “a door”) that marks the barrier between destruction and salvation; between turmoil and peace; and between safety and the thief. But look at how the Lord describes Himself as well in this passage. He says “I am the good shepherd” and this “good shepherd” lays down his life for the sheep. It seems clear that the Lord is making a stark and clear contrast between Him and the others who are all trying to be the religious “leaders” of the people. The Lord makes it clear that He is the threshold between the slavery of mere religion and the abundant life of the Holy Trinity that the Lord offers His people. He also declares Himself fully invested in the care of the sheep, unlike the “hirelings” that are only there for the moment in their self-serving ways. They are willing to care for the sheep when it’s easy, safe, and convenient, but when danger comes, these “hirelings” leave the sheep defenseless.
The Lord not only insists that He is the Door and the Good Shepherd, but that the proof of this is that the sheep know His voice and this intimacy is akin to the intimacy between the Father and the Son. Whoa! Really? Yes, really. Jesus leaves no doubt to those honest enough to penetrate the implications of His words. He is offering humanity nothing less than a passage from isolation and fear to the intimate embrace of a Shepherd that will never leave them or forsake them. He is inviting you and me to step through this “threshold” into a new and living way where we are finally embraced and empowered to become who we really are! And He leaves the clear teaching that He is the ONLY Door to this place of salvation. If you get there, it’s going to be through Him!
Today, the exclusivity of the message of Christ is troublesome for many. They want to say there are “many paths” to God. And while this may be nice and even comfortable in a world that seems uncomfortable with objective truth, the Christian faith simply doesn’t teach this. The Faith once delivered to the saints embraces the singular moment of human history when God enfleshed Himself and came among us to become our “doorway,” our “threshold” to the abundant life of the Holy Trinity given to all who enter into communion with Him. All the other “paths” are untested and untried. They may be populated with “hirelings” who will abandon the sheep at the first sign of trouble. But not Christ. He is “THE Door.” He is what it means to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Have you “heard” this devotional? You can! All you have to do is go to Faith Encouraged DAILY and listen to our Monday through Friday devotionals. You can even set your ITunes account to automatically download them every day! Just one more tool to embrace a purposefully Orthodox daily life!