The community of God’s people is the worldwide body of Christ. We are the sheep of God’s pasture. Jesus the Good Shepherd leads us out of the corral into the pasture to fellowship and minister with and to one another.
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:3-4
David, who tended a flock of sheep as a child, wrote this about Messiah Jesus.
David pictures the LORD our shepherd leading us in goodness and loving kindness. This is how we are led in the community of the king.
- 1 The LORD is my shepherd;
- I shall lack nothing.
- 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
- He leads me beside still waters.
- 3 He restores my soul.
- He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
- 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
- I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
- Your rod and your staff,
- they comfort me.
- 5 You prepare a table before me
- in the presence of my enemies.
- You anoint my head with oil.
- My cup runs over.
- 6 Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life,
- and I will dwell in the LORD’s house forever. Psalm 23:1-6
The church corral tragically differs from the corral Jesus and David pictures.
The church corral is of man. The words clergy, clergyman and clergywoman do not occur in the Bible. Church buildings were not built until the fourth century, when the clergy took over. The corral Jesus spoke about was for the sheep fold’s overnight rest and security. In the morning, Jesus the good shepherd led them out to God’s pasture.
The church corral contains the sheep fold and the church clergy never lead us out. We are fenced in a corral full of dust from crowded sheep milling in it. So, we never get to lie down in green pastures. Instead: (1) many of the sheep do not feel capable of or free to minister, (2) we are taught that ministry is delegated to clergy, (3) and, one another ministry is difficult when sitting in a pew.
Still, we minster to God and one another.
Even if we sit in the pew hindered state, we do have faith in Jesus and we do sing hymns of worship to God. And, in spite of the church corral mentality, we do a lot of one another ministry outside of the church corral. Because we only observe the church service pulpit and pew order for an hour or two a week, we have many hours in a week to minister to our family, other brothers and sisters of Jesus and the hurting.
Messiah Jesus leads us out of the church corral into God’ pasture.
In the community of God’s pasture, we are free to eat like mature sheep with their lambs frolicking in a green pasture. We are free to minister to and with one another. Most of the early saints (holy ones, made holy by the blood of the Lamb) actually gathered in homes to fellowship with and minister to one another. I am gratified to see that more and more elders do not consider themselves clergymen and freely function as shepherds of God’s flock.
May our God “count you worthy of the calling, and may [He] fulfil all the good pleasure of goodness, and the work of the faith in power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and [the] Lord Jesus Christ.” From 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 Young’s Literal Translation.
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