Posted by: Moses | March 12, 2010

One Shepherd

“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. I “will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.” Ezek. 34:23-25.

And yet we follow so many different shepherds. My heart follows after so many different leaders, comparing and contrasting them. Sinfully judging them. Focusing not on their skill in presenting the gospel, but what makes them unique and therefore what makes me unique for following them. Unfortunately, looking at the state of the US church, my heart is not alone. We do not follow one Shepherd, proclaiming His gospel to the ends of the earth. We do not follow our pastors and spiritual leaders as “under shepherds” but as kings, distracted by their idiosyncratic prerogatives from the Mission.

Some Presbyterian leaders say that the Sacrament must be viewed as a spiritual communion with Christ. Their followers jump, forgetting to even think what the Chief shepherd might think of their subsequent angry spirit toward their brothers who may differ. Some baptist leaders equate believers baptism with the gospel! Their followers look down their long noses on their poor Presbyterian brothers who don’t even understand the clear teaching of the Bible.

Where is the humility of the New Testament? Paul did not come baptizing, but preaching the gospel! Paul is so concerned with the purity and unity of the Corinthian church that I do not think it ever occurred to him to address the metaphysical points of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 14. He was too concerned with the believers’ hearts and that their life would be patterned after their Savior as they ate together.

The New Testament has an amazing message, that from every tribe and tongue, every culture and ethnicity, God would make one People! Those called “Not My People” will be called “The Children of the Living God” (Hosea 1). Yet the flock is divided. The under-shepherds do not faithfully follow their Shepherd; they are too concerned making sure the sheep don’t follow another of the Shepherd’s servants. The Lord obviously did not know what he was doing when he hired that guy to preach the gospel! I mean, it sounds like he teaches a faith-filled gospel of God’s sovereign grace, but he believes such weird things about the certain practices in the Word. I’d better protect the sheep from the likes of him.

Paul has a simple, ironic command about such people who divide the flock on issues other than the gospel: “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Paul is talking about obstacles to the gospel and a pure life of faith (cf. Rom 14:1-15:7). How often do our “denominational distinctives” become at least points of pride, at worst true obstacles to the advance of God’s kingdom and stumbling blocks for our believing brothers?

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