Read: I Peter 5:1-4
Reflect: Sheep. Does anyone know anything about sheep? I don’t, other than Mary’s little lamb, Sherri Lewis’ puppet named “Lamb Chop”, and the fact that counting them is a cure for insomnia. I know squat. And so, what do I do when I want to know something that is referred to in the Bible and which affects the church worldwide? I ask an expert. (Sorry Google, not this time). W. Phillip Keller has written a book called A Shepherd Looks at the 23 Psalms, where he gives extensive information about these unique animals. Keller writes: “It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep. The behavior of sheep and human beings are similar in many ways…. sheep do not ‘just take care of themselves’ as some might suppose. They require more than any other class of livestock endless attention and meticulous care.” He further explains that sheep can get lost very easily; they become confused and disoriented. Sheep are always grazing while eating any and everything within eyesight. In contrast, they are picky regarding water and when they are led to a water source, it can’t be too hot or too cold, and it can’t be moving too rapidly. That is why the Psalmist refers to “quiet waters” in Psalm 23:2. The prophet Isaiah compares our lost condition to that of sheep who have gone astray. “All of us have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6) Let face it, God has us correctly pegged.
But God not only calls us his sheep, He also refers to those who oversee the sheep: the shepherds. Peter writes to the elders, and he says to them “Be shepherds” (vs. 2), echoing the words of Jesus when He said, “Take care of my sheep”. (John 21:16) Jesus was speaking to those living in an agrarian society, not to those who take their kids to the local petting zoo to feel the thick wool of the adorable sheep. Peter knew exactly what Jesus meant when He entrusted the care of the church, into his hands. This job of being an overseer was not for the individual who thought “If I don’t take this job, what is Uncle Jerry going to think of me?” or “If I take care of these people, maybe I can get into Hebrew school.” No, Peter says, “not because you must, but because you are willing”. I can’t speak for the shepherds in other churches (because I don’t know them) but I can speak for the ones at Grace who we call “pastors”. They are willing to put the long and sometimes difficult hours in. They are willing to care for the ones who are neglected or simply not known. They are willing because God wants them to be. Their desire is to serve the “sheep”, not for money, not for admiration, and certainly not for power. Pleasing God is only their desire.
Apply: As I sit here at my desk, writing this ReCharge, I keep thinking about what is going to happen tonight. It is the second game of the World Series and the Phillies have a chance to go up 2-0. Then they will come home and can win 2 more games and be declared the World Champions. (Alright, I’m getting ahead of myself, but a guy can dream, can’t he??) And as I think about Peter telling the elders to “Be shepherds” I must ask the question: Why? Why would a man want to be a shepherd? Is it like winning the World Series? Is he going to have an entire city cheering for him? Is he going to be someone known for his talents? Will he get boatloads of money? Hardly, but what Peter says, sums it all up:“ And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away”. (vs.4) Wow, what a reward, to please the Chief Shepherd! Helping Lamb Chop get from point A to point B may not seem like much, but to God, it’s vital Kingdom work!