Do we need a Gatekeeper?
Jesus compared himself to a gate, saying that whoever enters through him will be safe, will come in and go out and find good pastures. A gatekeeper controls access to something or someone, usually to someone with power. A gatekeeper could be a receptionist who decides where to route a message, a security guard at the entrance of a residential building, a bouncer who decides who may enter a bar, or a religious authority deciding who may enter and play a role in leadership.
Jesus said that he came that all may have life, and have it to the full. Jesus opened the gate to all people, so that all may participate in life to the full. He authorized all people to participate fully in life, to use their gifts and follow their calling. All people, regardless of race, marital status, sexual preference or gender. All people.
In the novel I am writing, Out of Brokenness: The Forgotten Followers, Mary is broken by abuse, Joanna by racism. Both take active steps towards wholeness. It is not about being passive as Jesus swoops in and makes everything rosy. Jesus opens the gate and it is up to us to come in for shelter or go out to find good pastures. We are not usually the passive recipients of miracles. We need to take active steps, reach out for solutions. Thankfully, God gave various gifts to people who specialize in helping in various areas: financial planning, mental health, physical therapies or treatments. Those who come in and go out of the gate show faith in action.
Jesus compares those who do not go through the gate to thieves who hop the fence and steal, kill and destroy. Do you know of any leaders or authorities who steal, swindle, or manipulate to get rich from their followers? Do you know any public speakers who hurt or destroy their followers by insulting, maligning, and belittling them? Any influencers who condone racism or sexism? Any religious institutions complicit with emotional, spiritual or physical abuse? Jesus said that a corrupt person will bring forth evil fruit and that we can identify them by their actions (Matthew 7:17). We can know who is a good gatekeeper and who is a thief who hopped the fence.
Some have said we need to get rid of gatekeepers, because so many bad gatekeepers have silenced people and blocked them from living life to the full. Social media has few gatekeepers, and we can see that giving everyone a voice can either work for good or harm. Having a good gatekeeper is better than having no gatekeeper.
Some people are too hurt or broken to be able to enter on their own. They need an advocate to open doors for them. The Bible tells husbands to "Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life." (1 Peter 3:7 NLT). This verse asks men to set aside their advantages because women and men are equal heirs in God's kingdom.
Many biblical stories show Jesus empowering women and men both as students, followers, patrons, disciples and apostles. As a gatekeeper, Jesus opened the gate to those who had previously been excluded from studying or public speaking.
Do we need a gatekeeper? Yes, if it's a good gatekeeper who follows Jesus' example, welcomes people so that they may have life and have it to the full.