As a youngster in the 1970s, during the years of the worst violence, I had an obsession with the security of our home. I had a very real fear that gunmen would try and get into our home and kill my father and mother. The front door of our home was barricaded at night at my pleading.
It wasn't as if these fears were groundless. People were being shot dead in their own homes and we had already been made homeless by sectarian intimidation in 1971.
The world in which we all lived was a very dangerous place. I yearned for safety in a violent society where evil people murdered without qualm.
In the scriptures this weekend, the Lord Jesus presents Himself to us as our shepherd. He tells us that He is the secure gate, or door, and that all who enter through Him are safe and they go freely in and out (John 10:1-10).
The one who is our true and good shepherd tells us not to fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28). When we belong to Him, nothing can separate us from His Father's love - no trial, no enemy, no danger, no demon - not even death itself (Romans 8:37-39). This is because the spirit of our Father and His beloved son lives in our hearts (Romans 5:5).
The good shepherd laid down His life for us and defeated the deadly enemy. He gives us His own courage so that "even though I walk in the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23:4). His is the voice that always reassures us, Do not be afraid for I am with you" (Isaiah 49:10).
The doorway that the Lord leads us safely through and by which we go in and out safely is faith in Him, transformation in Him (Acts 14:27). Those who belong to Him are those who have repented. The word "repentance" in Greek ("meta noia") is two words - "new" and "thought".
Repentance generates a revolution and a reorientation in our human nature, by God's grace, as His love changes us and makes us more like Christ.
We are transformed by imitating the example of Christ and led to the eternity of love for which God created us (I Peter 2:21).