SHEPHERD: A CHRIST’S FIGURE WITHIN HIS FLOCK
Every Sunday and every other day of the week, many people across the globe go to church in reverence to God and to listen to His message through His chosen ministers. These ministers are the representatives of Christ in the midst of His flock. They are chosen to feed and to take care of Christ’s flock – His people (See John 21:15-21). They are called to lead the flock in Christ’s footsteps.
As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you. John 20:21.
Those were the words of Christ to His chosen disciples after His death and resurrection. Long before then, He had informed His kinsmen what His duty entails: The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19).
It was His mission on earth to search for the lost sheep of the household of God and reunite them to their Maker – God Almighty. He is the good shepherd (See John 10 and Ezekiel 34). Our Lord is the model of how to live a godly life. Hence, ministers of the gospel of Christ must search for the lost sheep of the household of God. They must preach love, forgiveness, and faith. They must tend the flock and feed them with the undiluted message of life. They must not bend the message of God or preach it to please people but God only. They must beam the light of Christ on the world and open their eyes to their Lord, Redeemer, and King. Their lives must be a sermon to all who see and have an encounter with them.
When their followers celebrate them as kings because of their ministrations or miracles, they must humble themselves like Paul and Barnabas: “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings–just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15), because, “No one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was” (Hebrews 5:4).
This disposition of Paul and Barnabas must be emulated and maintained by today’s shepherds. Ministers of the Good News must reject the earthly crown and focus on the heavenly crown. They must know that Paul and Barnabas were imitators of Christ: “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself” (John 6:15).
Ministers of the Good News must let the flock know that they are only tools in the hand of the Creator to turn human hearts to Himself and to bless and keep them. When miracles are worked through them, they must humble themselves like John the Baptist and say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “He must increase while I decrease.” (John 1:29; 3:30.)
They must not boast about their affluence or exalt themselves, but emulate Apostle Paul thus, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 4:14).
Ministers of the Good News must never lose focus of their calling – to feed and tend Christ’s lambs or flock. They must understand that people show up on Sunday or any other day to be fed the word of God and not to be exploited; to be encouraged and not to be burdened; to be healed and not to be crushed; to be loved and not to be discriminated against, especially not based on their financial status or ethnicity; to deepen their spiritual lives and not to be led astray.
Apostle Paul summed it up: Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
The minister of the Good News must speak what God wants him to speak and not what the people want to hear. He must do the will of God and not his will. He must allow Christ shine through him and then return the glory to God. He must not steal the ovation for himself but keep the spotlight on Jesus whom he represents. He must not let pride rob him of the kingdom of God. He must at all times resist the devil and consciously conquer pride to his last breath.
We as followers must always keep ministers of the gospel of Christ in our daily prayers. We must not be oblivious to the great susceptibility of these precious shepherds to attacks and criticisms. Their mistakes are easily recognized and condemned without acknowledgement of the fact that they are humans divinely privileged to serve in leadership positions.
Hence Apostle Paul said: I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the disobedient in Judea, and that my ministry for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the holy ones, so that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen (Romans 15:30-33 NAB).
In conclusion, all Christ’s faithful must know that this message does not only apply to priests, pastors, deacons, rabbis, or other ordained ministers. It applies also to us, who by virtue of new birth and baptism are now priests, princes or princesses, and kings or queens in the household of God.
Dear Lord, our Chief Shepherd, help your chosen people to take delight in doing Your will. Fill us with grace to overcome pride, bless our ministries, and sustain us to the finish line. Amen.
Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).