Friday, July 17, 2015

Week's Reflection: Shepherding Straying and Lost Sheep

Reflection on this Week's Lectionary Texts: Jer. 23:1-6; Ps. 23; Eph. 2:11-22; Mk 6:30-34, 53-56

KEY THOT: This week's lectionary texts focus on shepherds and sheep. There are two kinds of shepherds: human and divine. And there are two kinds of sheep: straying and lost. Our model of shepherd-leadership is the Lord himself, who is our Chief Shepherd. We human shepherds are under-shepherds assisting the Chief Shepherd to restore straying sheep who belong to the household of faith but have gone astray. We also seek out the lost sheep who are aliens and strangers and not yet part of the household of God. 

Shepherd-leaders have two responsibilities. Firstly, they are to ensure that the sheep under their oversight are well cared so that they are not anxious and demoralized and start straying (Jer. 6:1-6). When sheep start straying from the church, it is indicative that the spiritual leadership has failed in their responsibility to care for them in times of their spiritual struggles. Straying sheep here do not refer to Christians who move to other congregations but Christians who no longer attending any church.

Secondly, shepherd-leaders are also to ensure that the sheep are well fed with God's word, their spiritual thirst satisfied by drinking of God's Living Water (Holy Spirit), and that they are guided into paths of righteousness (Ps. 23). When we do that, our sheep will be comforted and experience security, peace and contentment, even as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Finally, shepherd-leaders do not just care for insiders (found sheep) but also outsiders (lost sheep). They are called to be like Jesus, ministering to lost sheep who are still strangers and aliens to the commonwealth of God (Eph. 2:11-22). Like Jesus, shepherd-leaders are to have compassion upon them because they are sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56). Shepherd-leaders are to see such lost sheep as victims to be rescued, not sinners to be rejected. They are called to share the good news of the kingdom with them, so that they may come into God's kingdom where they can experience salvation--viz., healing and deliverance from the devil's oppression characterized by depravity, diseases, demonization and death.

Shepherd-leadership is not a position we fill in a church's hierarchy, but a responsibility we exercise over the straying and lost sheep. We are called to provide a safe and secure environment within the church where straying and lost sheep can experience the contentment and peace offered by the Lord who is our Chief Shepherd.

Father, may You fill us with Your Spirit, so that we may feel Your compassion for the straying and lost sheep. Amen.

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