While there are many metaphors God uses to describe His relationship with His people, one of the more prominent in Scripture is that of a shepherd with his sheep. Extending from numerous Old Testament references (Gen. 48:15; Ps. 80:1; Is. 40:11; etc.), Jesus is revealed to be the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11-16), the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20-21), the Shepherd and Overseer of his sheep (1 Pet. 2:24-25), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). Our exalted Shepherd accomplishes His faithful care of His sheep (feeding, leading, correcting, and protecting), through Elders that He raises up as “under-shepherds” (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3), and through the shared love and ministry His sheep are to have with one another (1 Pet. 4:7-11). All of this points to the local church as the arena in which God shepherds His people.
Beloved, there is a strong, God-ordained connection between your hope-filled delight in God’s shepherding care, and your humble devotion to His wise design for the local church. If we actively submit to His design in faith, we’ll increasingly taste of the Lord’s gracious goodness (1 Pet. 2:1-3). Conversely, to arrogantly resist God’s design is to resist His shepherding care, and to provoke His powerful opposition (1 Pet. 5:6).
I’m sure I speak not only for myself, but also for Smokey, Steve, and Chuck in saying that we’re humbled, honored, and blessed to serve among you as Christ’s under-shepherds at RCG. As we yearn for you with the affection of Christ, so we thank Him for you, and continually pray for your fruitfulness and joy in the hope of the Gospel (Phil. 1:3-11).
To God be the Glory!