March 22, 2015
“The Chief Shepherd”
[1 Peter 5:1-4]
Pastor Kenny Lee
IS GOD SWEET IN YOUR LIFE?
Let me recommend a nice piece of reading. It’s one of Jonathan Edward’s most famous sermons, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Maybe some of you in high school or maybe in college have read that, only to tear it apart because your professor or teacher didn’t like what Jonathan Edwards had to say. But I suggest you read it again, its free you know, its all over the place, if you go on the internet and write Jonathan Edwards sermon, you would see “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful sermon, very pointed for this day in age. Just to tell you, we all may have misconceptions about Edwards at times, especially with a sermon titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. But just to give you a little information, the word that Edwards used the most to describe God, was it wrath, was it vengeance, was it justice? No. More than any other words and he has a ton of work. Arguably one of the greatest minds that America has ever produced, the word that he used the most is sweet, sweet. Can you imagine sweet? My challenge to you is, is God sweet in your life? Does it have a very sweet taste in your mouth? I’m trying to refrain from sugar and my mouth is watering with even the word sweet right now. Is God sweet in your life?
Let me give you a little excerpt to get you guys started. “The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether un-experienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God.” Isn’t that awesome? I want to talk like that. Anyways, please if you can read that this week, it would be amazing and say with him, read it, read it. It’s good stuff.
CHURCH SHOULD BE DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD
As a way of introduction to this sermon, it’s a hard sermon for me to preach. There are times that you wish someone else can preach, not even Pastor Brendan because Pastor Brendan is part of this church, but someone outside of the church and say “Hey. Your pastors are working really hard, so you better listen to them. You kind of want something like that, you know? It’s especially hard for me to preach this message because the fact that well it’s talking about myself, it’s talking about Pastor Brendan. We hold an office in the church you know, we’re pastors. We’re presbyters, we’re ministers of God’s word, we’re elders as it were, overseers. It’s talking exactly, it’s talking right to us. Although it is talking about a certain office, you know? There is a challenge to be made with all of us. Why is that? Because in Christ we are all called to be leaders of some sort, are we not? Yes. We look at the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. So in short, I guess what Peter is trying to say in a roundabout way, in a direct way, is saying that we should all grow up. Go from me, me, me to others you, you, you. Why isn’t this church ministering to me? Look at me! That’s what babies do. How do I know? Because I raise them. And they’re still me, me, me. Why is this church not fitting my needs? What’s wrong with this church? What’s wrong with the people? Why aren’t they ministering to my needs?
Often times as we look at the church, we often criticize it very much, especially the leadership of the church, why? Because in our modern day in age, we have lots of leadership styles to look at, do we not? We have our own opinions about leadership, we have fast paced businesses, we have particularly government management, we have coaches, professors, academia, we have Oprah, Dr. Phil, we have celebrities, you know? We look at MTV a little bit, and all these stars of leading. We’re quick to criticize leadership. And often times, we’re quick especially with churches, why? Because we somehow think the outside world is greater. We somehow think that my corporation is much better, much better organized, and it may in certain degree, yes. But is that right? We look on the outside, yes. I was at some kind of building this weekend I was so impressed. The building was amazing, I was like “What does this corporation do?” It was beautiful, you know. It was just a beautiful building; I was like “Wow. This is amazing.” I go to New York, and I look at the churches and the churches are pretty impressive, St. Patrick’s cathedral is pretty impressive. But compared to the World Trade Center, compared to all those, it’s you know? Its bigger, bright colors, very modern, very nice. Corporate structure is set.
We look at the church, the building is not as pretty, no money, no prestige, no power, no bling, no swag. And somehow you think, somehow we all think that because of that, because outside it doesn’t look that impressive, somehow we all think because of your position in the corporate world, now that you grew up from high school, now you’re in college, you read some little sermons by Calvin, or good theologians. Somehow you, we all think that we have some leadership styles and we’re so quick to criticize. We look at Ted talks, we think the same way. We somehow think we’re experts, and we’re so quick to judge on how church should be run. Just to remind you, beloved CCC, church is a Christian organization. Church is very different from anything else in this world. Church is an institution given to us by God, upon the foundation of God’s word, upon the blood of the martyrs that gave their life because of God’s word. So what do you think should be the center? Exactly God’s word. So I ask you, put your pride aside, put your opinions aside, and lets take a humble approach to what God says about church and its leaders. That’s what we’re going to look into today.
LEADERSHIP IS A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
So the first thing we look at is the fact that leadership is a shared responsibility. It’s not just by one person, but it’s a shared responsibility. The second point is the fact that we all should be shepherds, the fact that Christ is the Chief Shepherd. 1So 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. Fellow elders, that’s what Peter calls them, fellow elders. Church is not a dictatorship, that the first thing that Peter wants you to know. That church is not a dictatorship. Leadership is a shared responsibility; church leadership is a shared responsibility. Jesus Christ had how many disciples? Twelve, right? Twelve disciples, not just one, there was one leader, right? There was Peter. But there were twelve disciples.
We’re going to take a look at Moses, we take a look at Moses because Moses is regarded as a wonderful leader, and no one could doubt that in scripture. Now but yet, Moses is doing his daily work, leading the church, leading Israel, and there were millions of them, millions of people that Moses had to take care of. And as he’s taking care of everything, he’s busy like any church leader, any leader of any organization, he’s very busy. But his father-in-law comes and checks his operation out and this is what he says 13The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. (This is from Exodus 18) 14When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17Moses' father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.” What you are doing is not good. Some of you might be like “Phew, good, finally. That’s right it’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.” A lot of you guys might be saying that, but no, no, no. It’s not even a democracy you see. It’s not like one person, one vote. It’s not like America, one person, one vote; it’s not like that. Two-thirds, okay we’ll pass this, we’ll pass that. Because in scripture, there’s a clear leadership, there’s a clear appointed leadership. Not a let’s vote in leadership. There’s a clear appointed leadership. Everybody has an equal value, but everyone has a very different role. And we see that when Paul is describing the body of Christ. In a family, you have a mother and father and you have children. They are all equal in value, they are all equal in that way, but clearly there are different roles. So it is with the church.
ACCOUNTABILITY COMES FROM SCRIPTURE
I’ve been in churches like that where it’s a democratic kind of church and in those churches, and I hope not in this church, but maybe. But there are many churches that I’ve been to that had that kind of model. Where you sit around and talk about the color of the doors, what kind of entrance way are we going to do. There’s a real example, there was one time the elders of the church were fighting about 80 dollars, and they spent three, four hours on eighty dollars. And so finally this one elder stood up and says, “I’ll pay the eighty dollars.” That’s not it, what type of guitar are we going to use, what type of mic are we going to use, what color chair are we going to use? Everything had to go through that. Why do they do that? “Accountability! You know that pastor has to be accountable. That pastor needs to be in check.” Beloved, do you know where accountability comes from in the church? Accountability comes from scripture. Accountability comes from scripture. Accountability comes through a bible study, when we are one minded. When one person strays, we know. That’s where a closeness, intimacy comes from.
We’re so quick to judge because we somehow think that we are so influenced by the outside world. Church is different you know. Church is extremely different. What kind of person does God use? And you know this is an example I used with the children; this is what a pastor observed. One pastor observed this and this is what he said, “Moses spent 40 years becoming something”. Moses spent 40 years trying to become the King of Egypt, becoming the Prince of Egypt. God couldn’t use a man like this, so there were some unfortunate events that happened in Moses’ life and Moses was kicked out of Egypt. And this pastor said, “He spent another 40 years becoming nothing”. Becoming absolutely nothing and it was then, only then that God can use Moses. And its funny because before Moses was learning how to be a king, how to write in hieroglyphics, out of all the people, just learning amazing skills and going to the best schools and all that. And God chose to just humble Moses, so that he could have a shepherds crook and chase after sheep for forty years. And it was only when Moses didn’t consider himself much that God used him.
FELLOW ELDER, BE AS A SHEPHERD
Isn’t it funny that out of all the occupations of the day: a king, a wise man, a merchant, a warrior, a counselor; what would he choose? A shepherd. A shepherd. You know in Jesus’ time a shepherd’s testimony was not immiscible in court, just like a woman of the day. That shepherds were such simpletons, that their testimony was not immiscible in court. If they testified, all that they would say is “But he is but a lowly shepherd” and they would throw the case out. Even now, do you think God would choose a CEO, or inventor, or even a genius, a government official? No. Even now God would choose a blue-collared lowly shepherd. Be as a shepherd. Peter says in verse 2 “ 2shepherd 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; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” As he’s writing that, I bet you anything what Peter was remembering at that time when after Jesus Christ died and rose again and met up with Peter again. Went up to Peter and says “Peter do you love me? You denied me before, but do you love me now?” And Peter says “Yes Lord. I love you.” “Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep, Peter. Feed my sheep.” Why feed? Why feed?
You know its so funny like back in the old times, back in the olden days, its so funny. When I read something it comes out in the pulpit. I know you’ve heard a lot about the Puritans, but bear with me please. You know during those times, pastors had a lot of influence. Why? Because God mattered that much. Right now, the role of the pastor is like a glorified event planner or glorified cheerleader. “Go, go, go! Go, go, go! You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!” And God is something like that too; we place God in that place too, right? Somehow we are at the center and God says, “You can do it! God will strengthen you! Yay!” That’s terrible. Do you not know who God is? That’s awful. God calls myself, God calls myself, God calls Pastor Brendan, and God calls you “Fellow elders” to be shepherds. What can you do as a shepherd? You pet it, alright you pet it. You entertain it? What do you do with it? What do you do with sheep? I never raised a sheep, but not many of you have raised sheep either. But I’ve seen sheep and they’re very dumb animals. I look at it, its fluffy, its cute. Stare at it, its not like I’m going to entertain it, its not like I’m going to dance with it or anything. But you know what a shepherd does, shepherd feeds the sheep. Shepherd guides the sheep. Shepherd herds and cares for the sheep. Sheep tries to run away, there’s actually a part of the shepherd’s staff that keeps you from going, guides the sheep. The sheep just goes everywhere. That’s exactly what a church is. A church isn’t a place where you entertain; I’m not here to entertain. ARE YOU ENTERTAINED? I’m not here to entertain you. I might say, I might throw out some, little humor here and there, but that’s not my job, my job isn’t to dance or anything. It’s not to draw your attention. And you fellow elders, that’s not your job either. Your job is not to entertain, its not to pet them and awe. Yeah maybe there’s some of that, okay. A church is a place where you get fed; you get fed. Fed by what? Fed by God’s word, dear people. A church is mainly a place where you get fed, and you get guidance, and where you get cared for. That’s what a church is.
We are not to be domineering. How do we get rid of bullying? That’s a big thing these days. “My kid has been getting bullied. Cyber-bullying.” How do you get rid of bullying? You know how? When we look at Frederick Nietzsche all religion is power play, and he’s right. All religion can be a power play, right? But when does that power play get utterly destroyed? A power play gets destroyed when there is a relationship, do you know that? A power play only happens if you don’t really know each other and there’s a distinct judgment going on. “Oh you’re a sinner. Oh the pastor’s a sinner. Oh the pastor is this. Oh the pastor is scary.” When there is distance, that’s the only time when there is power play going on, a lot of judgment. Tim Keller famously writes, “The only person who dares to wake up a king at 3am is a child.” And Tim Keller says we have that kind of access. I couldn’t go up to the President of the United States and say, “Barack, I’m kind of thirsty right now. I’m at the Lincoln bedroom, could you get me a glass of water please?” No, no, no. I can’t do that. He’s the President of the United States. Secret service would probably put me in handcuffs and put me in jail. But what about his daughters? “Daddy, I’m thirsty.” “Alright, okay. I’ve got to meet with the Vice President tomorrow, but alright.” And gets her a glass of water. Where’s the power play there? Get to know the people of the church. And you do that through scripture, you do that through bible study, you do that by knowing God’s word. Yes. I’m a shepherd, but I am not The Shepherd. I am but a mere servant. Pastor Brendan and I are just mere servants. All of you guys are mere servants. And we need to direct each other to scripture, and then and only then can Jesus Christ be the chief shepherd.
LEARN AND BE HUMBLE
In verse 5 “ 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposed the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ ” You know I’d like to tell you, although it says younger respect the older. I’ve seen some old people now and I’m up there myself, middle age. And there are some old people that I just don’t want to learn from, you know so age isn’t everything. There are some old people that have never learned the word of God, in Christ they are mere infants, but they would look through this chapter and say, “See, by sheer age, you should listen to me.” No, that’s not it. What Peter is talking about are elders, our elders who are older, who tend to be older, who’s experienced the word of God, who’s lived the word of God. Who experienced and lived the word of God. Be humble. Be humble. And note that it tells young people to be humble. Why? Because you know when I was young I didn’t quite know. I was like you guys I thought I knew everything. Especially when I went to college, I thought I knew everything; literally I thought I knew everything. Because now I’m in academia, I know everything. Now at this side of forty, I know nothing and I knew nothing then. Young people, be humble, be humble. Learn; learn upon the experiences of the elders. Learn.
My ministry there is a lot of young people and I’ve had the privilege of just talking about my experiences in the context of bible study and things like that. And I often times think about them, and if they’re able to learn what I have experienced now. How much greater will they be? How much God glorifying would they be, when they get to be my age? So the older people in our congregation invest in our children. Invest in our congregation. How much more will God’s kingdom be glorified? Young people, be humble. You don’t know. Leaders are to be an example, not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk. That’s missing, that’s a rare thing these days. We know how to quote Calvin, we know how to quote Edwards, like I did today, but rarely do we know how to have that relationship. The mentoring and all that come very organically, not systematically, organically. What’s the difference? Systematic is “We will meet at this time and this hour. And we will have mentorship, we will have discipleship.” Although there are places for that, but true mentorship, true discipleship comes when you’re living together, when you’re eating together, when you see the bad, and the good, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
CHRIST IS THE CHIEF SHEPHERD
Don’t you know that Christ is the chief shepherd? Oh beloved, Jesus loves you so much. God loves you so much. How much you say? God loves you so much that, he would send his one and only son and die for us. He would take that bow that’s pointed at our hearts and he would stand in front of that bow. And justice let that bow go, and it pierced the heart of Jesus and he died, and he did that for us. He rose again from the dead and he has the highest power and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. And that’s not it folks, God sends us the Holy Spirit, so that we can be guided by him and that’s not it. And there’s more. God sends his servants to serve you, i.e. the elders, yes elders. God sends leaders, God sends elders to serve you and tell you that Jesus loves you so much. Are you listening? Do you hear? Do you hear the Great Shepherd? Not this shepherd. Do you hear the Chief Shepherd? “Yes. I love you. Come back; stop straying.” Will you respond to the Great Shepherd?
Ephesians 4:10-16, and we’ll end with this. "10He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”