Summary: Christian leaders should do their work faithfully and accordingly.
SHEPHERDING THE CHURCH
1 Peter 5:1-5 November 26, 2006
There appears to be a hymn for virtually every profession:
Dentists: Crown Him with Many Crowns
Contractors: The Church’s One Foundation
Obstetricians: Come, Labor On
Golfers: There Is a Green Hill Far Away
Politicians: Standing on the Promises
Gardeners: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
Librarians: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Lawyers: In the Hour of Trial
Accountants: Ten Thousand by Ten Thousand
Clothiers: Blessed Be the Tie
Students: Ask Ye What Great Things I Know
Dry Cleaners: O For a Faith That Will Not Shrink
Credit Card Purchasers: A Charge to Keep I Have
Weather Forecasters: From Every Stormy Wind That Blows
Orators: O Could I Speak the Matchless Word
Choir Directors: Sing Them Over and Over Again to Me
Traffic Engineers: Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life
IRS: We Give Thee But Thine Own
Pastors: Be Not Dismayed
Absent Church Members: Jesus, I Am Resting.
It looks like the Lord really understands our needs and situations.
ILLUSTRATION A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. -- L. L. Nash; An inscription over a church door: This is the house of God. This is the gate of heaven. (This door is locked in the winter months).
A church is a group of people who has needs but also committed to meeting the needs of this world. For that reason, we need people who will lead and guide us as a Church. Read 1 Peter 5:1-5
Peter was instructing his readers on how a Christian should live in an environment of hostility and suffering both in the world and at home. Times of persecution demand that God’s people have adequate spiritual leadership. This explains why Peter wrote this special message to the leaders of the church, to encourage them to do their work faithfully.
Elders (presbyter) – are the leaders of the local congregations. The institution of eldership providing direction and leadership goes back to the early days of Israel as a people (SEE Exodus 3:16). It was adopted by the Jerusalem church (SEE Acts 21:18), and Paul and Barnabas applied it to the local congregations they founded on their missionary journeys (SEE Acts 14:23).
What is the responsibility of the elders?
1. Be shepherd (poimaino) – to guide, guard, and feed in the manner of the shepherd. The elders protect, lead, guide, guard, and feed the community of believers. In other words, leaders of our church need to be in touch with our congregation. We must have a general understanding of the congregation’s situation.
Peter reminds the elders that the flock is God’s and that they are responsible for its loving care. The leaders of the church do not own the congregation. We are simply stewards of God’s church. If the church scatters and lost because of our negligence and irresponsibility, we are accountable to God.
2. Serving as overseer (episkopeo) – to watch over and look after as supervising the believers. SEE Acts 20:17, 28 – these verses also described the work of the elders – be shepherd and overseers of the church of God.
The early church utilized more people than the church today does (SEE Eph 4:11-12) and so put the spiritual leadership in the hands of a plurality. It is important to note that the goal of the leadership is to prepare God’s people for service… -- build up the body of Christ and become mature.
Therefore the growth and maturity of the church do not depend on the leadership of the few but the cooperation of all (See Ephesians 4:16)
How should the elders do their work?
1. Willingly (“not because you must”) – not under compulsion but voluntarily, deliberately, and intentionally. This implies the readiness to sacrifice and persevere. He never makes excuses.
When a person is willing, the work becomes an opportunity rather than a responsibility. It also lessens the stress because work is done without compulsion or pressure. Commitment is an evidence of willingness to serve.
2. Eagerly (“not greedy for money”) – the motivation is not the material gain but the opportunity for service. The service is mark with enthusiasm and patient desire. This implies that the elder is taking the initiative and seeking the opportunity to serve.
ILLUSTRATION The medieval theologian John Duns Scotus was visiting Rome, and the Pope took him into the Vatican treasuries. Running his hands through the silver, the Pope said, “No longer does the church have to say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’ ” The theologian replied, “That’s true, but also no longer can we say, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ ”
Eagerness in service happens when the person sees the need and is convicted by the Spirit of God that he should do it. The person also thinks of the welfare of others rather than personal ambition. (SEE 1Timothy 6:5) Some people serve to have a bargaining power before God.