Summary: This sermon looks at what it means to follow the Good Shepherd.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday.
Are you following the Good Shepherd?
Or are you following someone or something else?
Who are you following??
Who influences you in your life?
What or who is behind the decisions you make?
This week as you make decisions
As you respond to how others react
As you live your life ask yourself who or what am I following?
Is it other people?
Or other approaches to life?
One of the Early Church Fathers is a gentleman called Augustine.
He has had a significant influence on some aspects of Christianity.
Despite being born to a Christian mum.
His father was an open pagan.
Early in his life he did not follow the faith,
Instead he loved women, debating and many lustful joys of life.
He openly had what we would call mistresses.
He followed some of the popular thoughts of the day
that encouraged people to think of themselves first, second and third.
Even as he turned to God he was still pulled like a strong magnet to other approaches to life.
As he was going through his early life he had a famous prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet"
After some disappointments with what he was following and believed,
realising that this were not going to satisfy him.
He read the story of St Anthony of the Desert,
Resulting in Him turning away from many things in His life.
Then he picked up Romans 13, from verse 13.
This is what he read:
13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Overtime he became one of the most influential followers of God.
What about you are you following God?
Sometimes we think we are following God…
But are we?
I often I am confident I am following God,
And then I think of Paul when he was called Saul
He followed God as the Jews knew God.
His understanding of God was not just based on what we know as the Old Testament
But also the traditions of His father
And in the way He wanted to follow God..
He was bound a lot by traditional ideas and thoughts.
Even in the church we can think we are following God.
However at times I am amazed what people think is Christian.
Early in the history of the Lutheran Church in Australia
There was a discussion at one congregation about introducing a new worship service
An English worship service…
The children of the German families spoke mainly English but all the services were in German.
But there was opposition.
One lady said if German was good enough for St Paul then it is good enough for me.
Often we too can be bound up with ideas about how things should be.
And whilst these ideas maybe helpful for some people they aren’t for all
Some years ago I was at a congregation when a missionary from Papua New Guinea,
Questioned the pastor why people were so disrespectful and ungrateful to God for His suffering and dieing.
He said you go with your head bowed, and you look so sad.
And you return the same way looking so sad.
He went on to say, “Don’t you understand what God has done for you.”
“Aren’t you happy that God laid down His life for you so you can have life, and has taken all the weight of your sins.”
In Papua New Guinea people come down the aisle dancing and smiling because they are so thankful that God wants them in heaven so much that he would lay down His life for us.
They are grateful of what God has done.
He really got me thinking.
And realised both responses are very valid.
When my head is bowed and I look sorrowful
I am reminded of the fact that even though God loves me
I have sinned and I continue to sin.
That I am ashamed.
And when I come away smiling and being thankful
I am reminded of the fact of what Jesus has done for me.
That He laid down His life for me.
Isn’t that something to be joyful and thankful for.
And we truly need to examine what we think,
how we act and how we see things
Through having a deeper relationship with God.
By spending more time with God
And this means spending time in the scriptures
And allowing God through the scriptures reveal himself to us.
This means we rely on not just what someone has said
Or what you have read in a book