Summary: First Peter 5 speaks to elders and youngers revealing the calling, the attitude and the reward promised to both groups.
Elders and Youngers (1 Peter 5)
CHCC – November 2, 2014
At the end of Peter’s first letter to the churches, he gives specific instructions to the elders and the "youngers." For that day and age, we could generally assume elders might be folks over 30 and youngers under 30 … since 30 was considered the age of being fully adult. (This is why Jesus started his ministry at age 30.)
But I think we’ll find this advice applies to all of us. In some respects we are all older and we are all younger. Everyone, young and old, has someone they are responsible to care for … someone who needs their guidance and encouragement. And all of us, young and old, often need someone else to help us.
1. The ELDERS
1 Peter 5:1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:
The church had only been in existence for around 30 years at the time Peter wrote this letter, but already the church was guided by Elders. Peter considered himself one of these Elders. Elders were the respected leaders of congregations. These men were qualified by their willingness to suffer and even die for their faith.
In Peter’s case, he reminds them that he was an eye-witness to the sufferings of Jesus Christ. When he talks about how we share in the sufferings of Christ, that’s not an abstract idea to Peter. He remembered the horrible details of Jesus’ beatings and his crucifixion. He --- and many others in the church at that time --- had known the Son of God in the flesh!
• The Calling:
Peter writes to the elders because they were key leaders in the churches. He says in vs. 2: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—
The calling of an elder in the church is to be a SHEPHERD, watching over the flock. Shepherds and sheep were a common sight in Israel back them, and it’s still a common sight today. A Church of Christ minister named Lynn Anderson wrote a book called “They Smell Like Sheep.” He tells about a time he and his wife were riding a tour bus through Israel’s countryside. The guide was pointing out the history and lifestyle of being a shepherd in Israel. He was giving a heart-warming portrayal of the ancient shepherd/sheep relationship --- telling how the shepherd builds a trust-relationship with his sheep --- how he feeds them and gently cares for them --- how he is never harsh with them because they recognize and follow his voice.
And then he laughed and told what happened on a previous tour when he told the same story. He said he was giving the same speech about sheep and the caring shepherds when he suddenly realized he’d lost his audience. They were all staring out the bus window at a guy chasing a herd of sheep. He was yelling and throwing rocks at them and whacking them with sticks and yelling for his dog to “sic-em!”
The tour guide got so upset that he jumped off the bus and ran after the man, yelling, “What do you think you’re doing? That’s not how a shepherd is supposed to act!” The man stopped and looked bewildered for a minute, then he blurted out, “You got it all wrong, man! I’m not a shepherd. I’m a butcher.”
This gave a great example of what a “good shepherd” is NOT!
Peter went on to describe the ATTITUDE a good shepherd needs to have.
• The Attitude:
Peter tells the Elders to shepherd the flock --- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (vs. 2-3)
The first requirement of an elder is a willing attitude. This is the opposite of the, “well, if you can’t find anyone else, then I guess I’ll have to!” This is true for every area of service in the church.
It’s wonderful here at our church to see how many happy, willing folks we have in the nursery and children’s classrooms; serving coffee in the hospitality room; leading the music for the church service; doing power-point and sound (we can’t have church without our electronics working right!); preparing communion and cleaning up after church … (I especially love seeing the toddlers picking up the communion cups out of the chair backs. They are just the right height – they don’t have to bend over at all. And they have a good time building towers out of the little plastic cups! Their enthusiasm is contagious!)