At the end of devotional reading today, the author of the book through which I’m currently reading and using as a study-guide wrote:
Now, one last question. How has God spoken to you today?
My response? Probably not in the way the author intended….
I did something new today. I did the usual pour a nice hot cup of freshly made coffee and shut my computer to avoid that as a distraction. Today, I also turned down the volume on my phone to mute and flipped it over so I would not see the flashing green light alerting me to a new message. Normally, I just leave it on the counter behind me, but the beeps of the new messages still serve as a distraction from focusing on the Word of God.
I began reading about Jehovah-raah, the Lord my Shepherd.
The author had some solid insights that caused me to pause and reflect on how what she said applies or is observed in my own life. “New” verses to look up and post around my house and on facebook as a reminder throughout the week. So far so good.
Then we get to the main Scripture passage for this morning – John 10:1-17, 26-33.
The author wanted us to make some observations about the different characters in the passage, compare and contrast different actions, etc. I began reading.
The first thing I noticed or that struck me was verse two:
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
The power of this verse, the confidence of the shepherd in this statement caused me to pause. The first verse had a thief and robber climbing up the back way trying to avoid being seen in a cowardly, underhanded way. The shepherd just walked right in to the fold of his sheep. Picture it.
Then we get to the part where Jesus very clearly and patiently spells it out for His audience who were not quite comprehending what He was saying.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. (vs 11-12).
This is the part where my train of thought left the path the author probably intended for it to follow.
A lot of pastors refer to their congregation as their flock that they need to shepherd, to guide. As of today, I think that is something they probably should not be saying.
John is part of the New Testament. These words are coming straight from the mouth of Christ Jesus – He is the Shepherd! Go back to the Old Testament, and we have David saying, “The LORD (Jehovah-raah) is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). If we follow the chain of command, that means pastors are the hirelings – the help.
It makes sense. How often do we hear of pastors who left a church during a split of congregation or who back down from preaching the Word of God because it’s not the popular opinion of the world? They’re fleeing when the wolf comes for the flock of the Shepherd. Good help is hard to find….but it’s not impossible. There are many good pastors who stay to fight the wolves who enter the church with a mission to scatter and devour the flock. I am certain not every hireling in biblical times abandoned their post when a wolf came near the flock of which they were charged with protecting.
Look at the TV preachers and churches or religions with their thousands of followers…of what man is saying. They are not preaching salvation. They are not preaching that yes, God is loving, but He is also holy and just. They have just enough bits and pieces of the Bible – usually/always out of context – that they sound like they are working for the Shepherd. In reality, they are leading a group of sheep closer to the side of a cliff to fall.