(Sorry for being offline for a couple of weeks - moving from Tallahassee to LA has kept me busy. It's good to be back!)
I am constantly amazed by how the meaning of each of Jesus' parables seems to expand each time I reread them. This morning I read John 10:1-18 in which Christ teaches a parable about the difference between those who enter the "sheepfold" by "the door" or by "some other way". Those who enter "not by the door" are called "thieves and robbers".
When the disciples do not understand, Jesus teaches that He is the door, and those who teach another doctrine other than the truth are thieves and robbers. Each is trying to lead the sheep somewhere, but the destinations are very different.
The thieves enter to "steal", "kill", and "destroy". This makes me think of all of the ways we can be enticed away from the true path of happiness. It has become harder to recognize these thieves as they are often disguised with such good ideas as tolerance and acceptance. We take Christ out of everything just to make sure and not offend, not requiring "tolerance" of non-Christians, just of those who believe.
Another way we can be deceived is by many programs built to enhance and improve our lives partially based on truth, yet not centered on the gospel. These resources can be sincerely life-enhancing, but still not complete. They often teach us to focus on our own needs, not on the needs of others.
In a recent talk by Dieter Uchtdorf he address this issue (by the way, I LOVE this talk - for the entire thing CLICK HERE):
"President Lorenzo Snow expressed... 'When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.'
"In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counter-intuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness."In these verses from John, Christ teaches "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (vs.10), "I am the good shepherd" (vs.14), and "there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (vs.16). By following the teachings of Jesus we are lead to truly lasting abundance and prosperity.