Yesterday, I laid a brief foundation for the next series of posts here at blossomsred. We’re going to talk about sheep. Baa-d idea? Am I displaying woolly thinking? No. Because after all – the pen is mightier than the sword.
Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
One of the many reasons why Christianity is in such a dreadful state today is that most of those who call themselves Christians have no deep appreciation for or understanding of the roots of their faith. I’m going to keep this post simple – not because I don’t think people are smart anymore, but because I think we’ve become too smart. We have to get back to a simple, basic understanding of who we, as Christians, are. And then we have to apply that understanding and assess what we, as Christians, have become.
Firstly, Jesus Christ is our Chief Shepherd. [1 Peter 5:4]
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [Ephesians 5:25a-27]
In other words, the Chief Shepherd gave His life for His sheep, and washes them with the ‘water’ of His Word. We are saved because He shed His blood and died for us. We are cleansed by His Word. [John 15:3]
There are many Christians today who are saved, but are not going to the well for water any more. And even those sheep who are going to the well find that their shepherds have left the stone rolled away from it, allowing all sorts of pollutants and dirt to get mixed in with the water. Or perhaps the shepherd fiercely guards the well, but only waters the sheep from the surface, rather than dipping down deep for a healthy mixture of warm and cold water. Some shepherds have also given up on part of the flock – the ones who they only see at Easter and Christmas.
Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of all God’s sheep in the Church that God is building. And everyone who is in any leadership position within any church needs to tremble because of that simple fact.
Jacob was a deceiver. Why did he try and get the shepherds to water only some of the sheep rather than wait for all of them to arrive? I don’t know. What I do know is that in the C.O.W. chapter of the Bible (Hebrews 11), Jacob doesn’t really get a rousing “well done, old chap” like his grandad Abraham did. Instead it seems that it was only as he was dying did Jacob really get his shepherding ducks in a row and reverently seek God’s blessing on the sheep. During his younger days, all he seemed able to do well was cheat and steal and deceive. He did not even know when his own family (don’t forget – they were his spiritual sheep, as he was their spiritual leader) were harboring idols in their midst.
Do our spiritual leaders know or care what idols we are clinging to? Do our spiritual leaders get by in life by being deceptive, dishonest or otherwise failing to uphold the standards of the Chief Shepherd? What is really going on in the ‘body’ of people who are saved by the precious blood of Christ? Are we getting our daily watering from the word under the guidance of faithful shepherds? Or are the wild animals lounging around in our midst, sharpening their knives.