The good life walls out bad things and lets in good things. We build walls to keep out the elements, people, and the enemy. We make gates to let our friends and family in. Jesus spoke of walls and gates too, “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. ... I tell you the truth, ... I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. I know my own sheep, and they know me.” John 10:1-16.

There are a number of different kinds of walls around us now. Walls can be physical or emotional. Physical walls consist of anything from a load bearing wall to a landscape wall that holds the side of a dirt wall in.

There are firewalls -- the physical ones between your house and attached garage. There is also a firewall that’s a part of a computer system or network which is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication.

Along with these more physical types of walls there are emotional walls. These are invisible walls of protection and often a hindering factor in good mental health.

We put up walls so that we can be in control of what happens next. But this sense of control is a myth. In reality, we have far less power over other people than we think we do. Building up a wall is an easy defense mechanism. If I cut you out of my life or deem our relationship not “real,” you can’t hurt me.

When we approach relationships like this, we fail to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and we miss out on the wild abandon in love. It is not easy to live like this -- people are intricately connected and blocking off one relationship usually affects another. And the pain factor is high on all counts. When you put up walls, we’re acting as the person we used to be. And the reality is, that person doesn’t exist anymore.

We are always growing and changing, and our old defense mechanisms won’t work for the person we are becoming. Emotional walls are a legitimate reaction to hurt — physical, emotional, or mental — they are made so we can shut everything out and take a break. But when allowed to grow and continue building these emotional walls can be an exhausting, entrenched habit and reaction; that takes hard, uncomfortable work to undo.

Walls can be good, and walls can be bad. When we put up walls and keep the good out and the bad in, we turn something beautiful to something that looks dead and cold and dark. Jesus came to break those walls down, to set free the captive and to give light and life to all people.

To protect us, Jesus gives us access to himself. Jesus says that he is the door — he is the “gate” by which we all can go through to have life. When we choose Jesus — the door -- we will be saved. We will live forever, and we will be able to go in and out freely and find pasture.

Pasture is where the sheep eat, rest, and do life together. When we follow Jesus — choose Him — we, too, can get to that place where we can eat, rest and fellowship with Him and His church.

Jesus didn’t stay behind the walls — the shepherd doesn’t leave his sheep in the sheepfold. The shepherd comes and leads them out every day. We are all called to follow the shepherd.

Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and follow. It’s time that we master our gates and walls. We need walls to keep the bad out and the good in.

Jesus loves us, He has a plan for us, He is calling His own to follow. Do you hear His voice? Or are you building a wall and locking the gate? Jesus stands at the door and knocks…

Colleen Hoeft is pastor of South Troy Wesleyan Church in Zumbro Falls. Pulpit is a weekly reflection on faith by an area pastor or religious leader. To contribute, contact Editor Jeff Pieters at 285-7748 or life@postbulletin.com.

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