Summary: Living as a Church in a Foreign Land Shepherding Among God's Flock
Living as a Church in a Foreign Land
Shepherding Among God's Flock
We are in our last mini-series in 1 Peter, “Living as a Church in a Foreign Land,” where Peter describes a life of discipleship together as a church in the midst of pain and suffering. We have two more weeks in 1 Peter, then we will celebrate Easter, and after that we will start a new series. Today we are looking at 5:1-4, “Shepherding Among God's Flock,” where Peter tells us the role of elders in the local church.
Big Idea – Elders are called to shepherd God's flock joyfully, freely, and by being an examples to the flock.
What Elders Do for the Flock
Elders Lead the Sheep. In the New Testament churches were led by a team of elders. Elders were godly older men who had spiritual influence on others and were appointed by apostles to spiritual leadership. CCC has three elders.
Elders Shepherd the Flock. The noun, pastor, is used only once in the New Testament but the verb is used several times, meaning the emphasis is not on the office, the title, or the position but on what they do. Elders are to 'shepherd the flock of God that is among you.' First, he says the church is God's flock; it belongs to God not the elders. Second, the flock is described as among you. Elders are not above or beyond the flock but part of the flock. The elders provide spiritual leadership but they are still sheep among other sheep. There is the idea here that the flock is a defined flock of sheep. Third, the flock is defined as those in your charge (v.3). The phrase 'in your charge' conveys the idea that God has appointed a flock, those among you, to the elders or entrusted a portion, the flock among you, to their care. The flock is made up of a defined group of sheep and points to some form of church membership otherwise verse 3 does not make sense. Elders knew who they were charged to shepherd. Now not all those who shepherd or pastor are elders. We have lots of people who pastor or shepherd others but they are not elders.
Elders oversee the sheep. Elders shepherd by exercising oversight. Elders are charged with the task of looking above the sheep to see what is ahead, where God is taking the body which points to vision and mission and direction. And elders are to look over the sheep to be aware of dangers. Sheep do not have that responsibility. The comfort for elders is that Jesus is the chief shepherd and he takes ultimate responsibility for the flock ; we are just undershepherds. We learn from Jesus that we are to raise up disciples to spiritual maturity and unity by teaching the sheep, encouraging the sheep, nourishing the sheep, correcting the sheep, protecting the sheep, and praying for the sheep.
How Elders Shepherd the Flock
Peter gives three ways elders exercise oversight. First, elders are to shepherd joyfully. Peter tells elders to 'exercise oversight not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you.' Elders, life group leaders, dads, shepherd the flock God has given you not because you have to do so or because you are forced to do so by your wife but because you desire to do so. Duty without delight is death to spiritual vitality. Obedience in the Christian life is joyful obedience not duty. If your obedience to Christ is from a sense of duty; your heart will shrivel up and becomes lifeless. We are to shepherd willingly, gladly, enjoying what we are doing. Next, elders are to shepherd freely, 'not for shameful gain but eagerly.' The role of elder often gives the opportunity for dishonest gain, making money off others. Peter says to shepherd eagerly, willing, irrespective of the financial benefit. That does not mean that some elders cannot get paid as we see that some who give time and energy to teaching are paid in the New Testament. Last, elders are not to shepherd in a domineering way over the flock but by being examples to the flock. Peter is talking about modeling Christlike service. Christ did not come to be served but to serve and give his life. You will never find the perfect pastor nor the perfect church but Jesus loves the church and gave his life for the church and so should each one of us. It is unbibliclal and unchristian to say you love Jesus but not the church. Peter closes his thoughts on elders by encouraging them to shepherd God's flock with an eye on eternity. “When the chief Shepherd, Christ appears, you will receive the crown of glory.” Elders, Life Group leaders, dads, shepherd the flock well and you will receive the crown of glory. This whole letter is about this one truth – that suffering is the path to glory. All the earthly, temporal rewards we run after – are short lived, will fade and be meaningless on our death beds when we prepare to die and face Jesus compared to the crown of glory.