There is a twenty-first century phenomenon which would be incomprehensible to those who lived fifty years ago. Perhaps you have experienced it in some small measure if you’ve had some strange activity on one of your bank accounts or credit cards. Someone has tried fraudulently to impersonate you and take out funds in your name.
But that is nothing new. Down the centuries criminals have impersonated others for personal gain. What is new in the digital age is someone seeking, not just to imitate you, but to appropriate your credentials so that they could be you and you are now displaced and locked out of your own life.
It’s called “identify theft” and in its worst form means that you no longer own your own life. Someone has fraudulently stolen it.
Today, in the working, world there are a thousand degrees of such behavior covering copyright infringement, passing off, plagiarism, patent infringement and all shades right up to full identity theft.
Chances are you have experienced it, even if it is a coworker taking credit for your idea. Chances are you have done it yourself somehow.
It’s very damaging, for it robs the victim of a variety of dignities.
Now refocus to the Son of Man’s description of himself as a gate. Wrapped into his images are those he describes as thieves and robbers who kill and steal.
What is it they steal, who is they rob and who do they kill? Jesus has in mind those who try themselves to “get in” without going through the gate and those who try to get others in through by-passing the gate.
Stay with it and it will open up to you. Jesus, the Son of Man, is expressing his identity in the phrase, “I am the gate.” He is explaining his identity and revealing his activity. He is stating who he is and what he does. “I am the gate, you must go through me.”
Now you can see that if someone comes along and claims to be a gate, trying to by-pass the gate or encourages others to try another entrance, they are really robbing the Son of Man himself of his identity. They are trying to steal his personality. They are hijacking his life and seeking to destroy it.
On top of that, they are trying to steal his followers, lead them astray and deprive them of life.
So any person, activity or proposition which suggests another gate is in the business of robbery, theft, destruction and death.
This is not just in the obvious issues of top priority but in every moment, task and thought.
Consider your working week. Every time you try any other mechanism for achieving your goals which avoids the gateway of the Son of Man you rob him and yourself. Any attempt to succeed without reference to his entrance or exit sign is infringement of his rights. It will kill your soul just a little bit each time.
Being an authentic Christian at work is not just about trying to work ethically, sharing your faith or being kind (although all of these things are important). It involves a complete integration of every thought with the gateway of the Son of Man.
What is the way to handle each decision? Through that door. What is the way to find an answer? – through that door.
This is complex, sophisticated and intense. The alternative is identity theft, daylight robbery and loss of life.
But notice the Son of Man explains, however, that his door is about life and life to the full. Full in this case means fulfilling, yet at the same time all-embracing.
As we will see when we go through the gateway to our next edition.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
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