Above the Fold (Chapter and Verse part 7)

"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre (greed), but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:2-3)

It's interesting how Jesus pulled twelve random guys out of everyday Judaic life and did more than start a church. He started the greatest movement mankind had ever seen. Both up till then and even now, going forward. Granted, I write from America. I can't see myself at my job laying down what I'm doing to follow someone who walks in and tells me to come with them. Follow me. "Sorry, I'm already following someone else." And yet, that's how Jesus did it with the twelve disciples and He continued to say those same words to numerous other individuals from every walk of life—He says it still today. And He cared for them and accompanied them throughout the tryingest and most wondrous three years of life. He may not have made a cent, but Paul says this: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9) It certainly could be referring to material wealth only, but I would say see it as Jesus emptying Himself of everything good in order that we would be able to partake of the gift of life in all it's fullness as received through Him, and from His Father. All that aside, sometimes I wonder what it was in Jesus' eyes that got these men to see something greater than the stability of a paycheck and a foreseeable future. I suppose, in His eyes, is all that and more.

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." (John 10b-11)

Someone else's byline

Paul opens the third chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians with a chiding, motherly tone. He expresses a note of concern that the flock of that church wasn't at a place to receive some of the deeper teaching that he, and certainly God, was ready to give. Rather than receive from Jesus directly, they had taken to calling themselves after one teacher or another: "For while one saith, I am of Paul, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (3:4). I think we can, and have, fallen into a similar way of thinking if we're too comfortable with someone who, no doubt, has been placed over us as unto the Lord. God may have put them there, but they're not meant to eclipse the Lord. "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (3:6, emphasis mine) And I believe God will give us increase in whatever way we're called, should we decide to only direct the attention of God's flock where it belongs: Jesus Himself.

As an aside, after John the Baptist is beheaded, his disciples came to Jesus and testified to Him of John's doctrine and teaching. John was Jesus' cousin and six months older. They both had similar occupations as itinerant teachers. It's comforting to see Jesus step in and care for John's disciples. "Come ye apart into a desert place, and rest a while." (Mark 6:31) When the people of that town (I guess it was Bethlehem—"His own country"  6:1) saw Jesus send John's disciples away, He sees all the people coming to Him "and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things." (6:34)

Extra, extra

When Jesus teaches, He empowers. While I believe it's necessary to integrate into a church, I'm also adamant that every believer, provided they're physically able, should be willing to take on God's lambs (I don't mean to sound condescending) and see that they grow as the Father intends.

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28)

It's serious business being in charge of a church or a small group, or even the hurting heart of a brother or sister in Christ. When God places you over someone, be it to shelter and clothe, to feed, to listen, whatever, God is trusting you with someone whom Jesus "purchased with His own blood". Each individual is priceless to Him. "And when He hath found it, He layeth it on His shoulders, rejoicing." (Luke 15:5) Jesus loves His lambs. He loves His people with an intensity that will take eternity to experience. We are experiencing it even now. Know that it's a high privilege and responsibility to care for them under Him.

"But He went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter." (Mark 1:45)

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