His knowledge of us
- We know His voice. There is in us an awareness of God. The Spirit testifies, Paul says, to our spirit. God communicates to us. A few obvious comments: the more we listen and respond, the more we hear. The more we choose to ignore, the harder it gets to hear. And the touchstone – the way we confirm that what we have heard from God is actually from God – is always scripture, because it is a record of what we know God has said. It isn’t the only thing God says; but it is surely what God has said. So – if a married man comes to me and says that God has told him that it is right for him to leave his wife and go off and live with his secretary, I can say ‘no, God hasn’t told you that. Because scripture tells me that you are called to be faithful to your marriage vows. It isn’t God saying that, it’s you.’ But if (true story) a minister trying to discern whether he should leave a church goes to a meeting elsewhere, and in the middle of his address the person leading calls out ‘don’t leave’ for no apparent reason, then that may well be God speaking – testing that against scripture reveals no problems. We know his voice – we’ve heard it before, and we hear it better and better as we practise.
- He knows our names. There are 7.4 billion people in the world – 1.4 billion in China, 1.3 billion in India, and over 320 million in the USA. There are 65 million in the UK – the second largest population in Europe, after Germany. And that’s just now – for those who have ever lived outnumber those who are alive many times over – well over 100 billion people have ever been alive. Some research says that we are capable of having maybe 100 acquaintances, but only around a dozen close friends. And I struggle to remember everyone’s name – and that’s just a hundred or so. But God doesn’t simply know us superficially; he knows us through and through. How great does it feel when we go into a coffee shop and the staff greet us by name and know what we will order? It lifts us up to be known. And God knows all about me. Is 43: ‘I have called you by name; you are mine.’
His purpose for us
- To lead us out – that we might grow and become the people we can be; that we might discover the ministry we have in store.
- To keep us together – ‘one flock, one shepherd’. Surprising, but right there. Binding us together as one people of God. Disunity does matter.
- To give us life – 10:10. The gift of the Shepherd to us is life. Eternal, Abundant. We are not eternal by nature; it is the gift of God to us in Christ.
His actions for us
- He pursues us – the Hound of Heaven.
- He protects us – picture of the shepherd sleeping across the doorway. Protects against the wolf and the wicked shepherds alike.
- He purchases us – the pinnacle of this picture: Jesus willingly lays down his life for us. He risks everything that we might live. Greater love…