Shepherding the Followers of Christ - 1 Peter 5:1-5

Shepherding the Followers of Christ

In today’s church, our church, are we shepherding those around us and guiding them in the ways of Christ? Our mission statement for our church is from Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

How can we go about doing this for our brothers and sisters in Christ? How are we doing this for our children so that they grow and develop as disciples of Christ?

1 Peter 5:1-5
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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Peter, an elder, and a WITNESS of the sufferings of Christ. Just imagine those credentials. A personal account of Christ, even though he did deny him three times, Peter wasn’t perfect, just like us. Peter begins this chapter by exhorting us. He is ‘strongly encouraging’ the elders. In the previous chapters, Peter encouraged us to endure suffering in Christ. Here, he really emphasizes what he is saying to the elders, or leaders, of the congregation. He strongly encourages them to shepherd the flock. Not because we have to, but because we are willing and eager to do this work? Do we have the enthusiastic desire to protect and lay down our lives for Jesus’ flock? If our hearts are truly aligned with God’s, then we will feel the call and willingness to disciple those around us. Yes, this can correlate to the leaders of a church, but what about our families? We, parents, are exhorted to shepherd our children and make them disciples of Christ. Again, if our hearts are striving to understand and pursue God’s heart, then we will provide that example to our children and others around us.

But, what is a disciple of Christ? One answer that I personally like is from Calvary Chapel Jonesboro in Arkansas (https://www.calvarychapeljonesboro.org/who-we-are.html). They listed out what a disciple is, and it may be an answer or a definition and not the absolute answer. But, I thought it simplified what we are called to do as Christians:
1) A disciple is passionately devoted to Jesus Christ.
2) A disciple is daily seeking God’s face and walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
3) A disciple is thinking and living biblically.
4) A disciple is selflessly loving others.
5) A disciple is boldly testifying of Jesus Christ.

God commands us to shepherd our flock. He commands us, as Christians, to make disciples of all nations. Are we building each other up so that we are all growing closer to God and becoming a witness of Christ?

On the other hand, those who are ‘younger’ or newer in their walk or relationship with Christ, should be humble and open to what God has for our lives. Maybe we are physically older and have been Christians since we were little, but have we dedicated ourselves to developing our relationship with Him? Peter instructs those who are newly growing and new Christians to have humility toward one another. I am nowhere close to knowing all the answers and still have plenty to learn, but I understand my weaknesses and pray and humble myself so that I may develop in Christ. I am not even close to being a perfect example, but it takes humility to be an example, especially to my kids. I strongly desire that my children will have a genuine personal relationship with Christ. I just hope that I have the humility and perseverance to be a genuine witness of Christ through my actions and living.  

We have all fallen short, and I am a sinner. But, I know that God’s grace is immeasurable and I have hope in this. Whether we are an elder in the church, leaders at work, or leaders at home, it is imperative that we willingly and eagerly care for the flock of Christ. We do this through our living example, through our words, and through our love for each other.

Let us build each other and grow in Christ as one. If you are more mature in your walk with Christ, then you have the responsibility to shepherd those who are less mature. Grow them, teach them, mentor them as Christ has mentored and taught us. Be humble and willing, because that is just the start. Let us develop, disciple, and shepherd our children so that they may grow and truly KNOW Him and witness to others around them in this failing world.
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