5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
On Sunday we had the opportunity to celebrate God’s faithfulness in the journey of Julian and Christiana Russell. As they prepare to extend God’s kingdom in the Bahamas (and as we send them), Mark Davis reminded us of “The Shepherd’s Sojourn.” Though Peter speaks directly to the elders “who shepherd the flock of God,” there are aspects of Peter’s encouragement that apply to all of us.
If we are sheep in the Shepherd’s fold, we have the calling and privilege to shepherd others. Whether we are young or old, male or female, have we realized that our lives impact the people around us? In all our different spheres of influence, we are confronted daily with the challenges of being a shepherd. Will we live for ourselves or for others? Will our example cause confusion or point others to Christ? Will we love others out of a sense of duty or from a heart transformed by the gospel?
As the Russells’ sojourn continues to the Bahamas and ours continues wherever the Lord has called us, how do we remain faithful as shepherds? Peter reminds us to remember who we are. Like the apostle himself, our story is framed by being witnesses of the sufferings of Christ and partakers in His coming glory. Our life finds its meaning in the life, death, and resurrection of our chief Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who became a sacrificial lamb to bring all of His wandering sheep home. As we seek to care for the Lord’s people, we must remind ourselves constantly that it is His flock, and that He is the chief Shepherd. Do we remember that we are always sheep before we are shepherds?
Our sojourn as shepherds of God’s flock can be as difficult as the life of shepherds wandering the hills with their sheep. When the sheep prove to be sheep, how do we press on as shepherds? We look back and remember how the Lord has shepherded us in all our wandering, but we also look forward and remember that our chief Shepherd will return. When He comes, His people will receive the unfading crown of glory. So in the shepherd’s sojourn, the rewards always outweigh the risks. As we consider the Russells’ example of responding to God’s call, how might the Lord be calling us today to step out of the familiar and comfortable to show forth the love of Christ?