Saturday, April 6, 2013

God will build you up

An old friend shared something she learned recently from a colleague, which is "men are all born equal, but some grew more stupid over time".  His reason is God made men the same but it is men's fault that they are not performing. The context is that of a company. Some of you might agree.

But how differently God sees us, I immediately thought. When Jesus was alive the people around him consist of Jews and non-Jews. And they were not perfect people. I am sure there were many people who sinned. They could be wife beaters, dishonest people etc. They were all under performing or even non performing by God's standard. But given that how does Jesus see them?
Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34, WEB)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. When He sees people who are weak, He has compassion on them. He does not blame them or put the onus on them to perform. He thinks they lack shepherding. Wow. So leadership is the key to making a difference and is the solution to under-performance. Instead of blaming the people for not matching up, Jesus cares for the people like sheep and would like to Shepherd them out of their misery. Many leaders blame their followers for not being good enough. But to the Lord, the key lies with the leader.

But what should the leader do? Let's watch what the Lord does.

In the verse above, the Lord taught them, thus effectively feeding them with the truth of His Words. That is the parting instructions He gave Simon Peter as well, when He restored Peter publicly by the Sea of Galilee.
So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed (Greek "Boske", occurrence 1 of 2, in present imperative active tense) my lambs (arnia, occurrence 1 of 1)." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Tend (Greek "Poimaine", occurrence 1 of 1, present imperative active tense) my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?" Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him, "Feed (Greek "Boske", occurrence 2 of 2, in present imperative active tense) my sheep. (John 21:15-17, WEB)
On the surface, Jesus gave Peter 3 instructions. He wants us to first feed His little lambs, then move on to shepherd His sheep (the more mature ones) and then to feed His sheep. But the Lord's tender kindness is hidden in the tender care when He chose the words.

The word "feed" is the Greek "Boske" and it appears only in verse 15 and verse 17. The word "tend" is the Greek "Poimaine" and that is the only time it appears in the bible. "Boske" means to feed with pasture. "Poimaine" is different from "Boske" as it means to shepherd and pastor the people in terms of guiding and protecting them (see ref 1). You can see the Lord would have chosen words not used anywhere else, thus putting His emphasis on these instructions. All 3 verbs are in the present imperative active tense. This means  it is the Lord's command that His leaders on earth should be actively doing them all the time (it will forever be a continuous action). In fact, the word lamb "arnia" only occur once! Such is the importance the Lord placed on those young in faith. Not only are His leaders to feed them first, their proper focus should be on them.

So God is in the business of feeding and building people up. Not demanding performance from them. He Himself is the food (He is the Word of God) that provides strength so the people may overcome. We don't need to be smart to follow Him. Sheep isn't good at being smart. They are just good at following the shepherd.

 In fact, He does not call the strong and the mighty. This is who He calls:
For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God. But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, "He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:26-31)
Were you downcast? Did anyone look down on your recently? Are you feeling that you are not able to perform? If you feel you are not wise, nor mighty, nor noble according to the world's standards, God can use you. He will feed you and empower you. And in Christ His wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption will be given to you. At the end, that He may make you a success. You will do mighty things for Him. In that day, you will tell everyone how kind and generous your Savior has been to you. Praise His Holy name!

Shalom!

Reference:
1) HELPS Word-Studies
Cognate: 4165 poimaínō – properly, to shepherd, caring for (protecting) the flock.
4165 /poimaínō ("shepherding, pastoring") is distinct from "feeding" (1006 /bóskō). 4165 (poimaínō) focuses on "tending" ("shepherding") (WS, 274), which includes guarding, guiding, and folding the flock and is only provided (ultimately) by Jesus Christ – the Shepherd, who calls under-shepherds (such as elder-overseers) to guard and guide His people by His direction (1 Pet 5:1-5). See 4166 (poimēn).
[4165 /poimaínō ("to shepherd, tend") occurs 11 times in the NT, usually with a figurative sense of "shepherding (tending) God's flock." This provides Spirit-directed guidance (care) conjunction with feeding His people (teaching them Scripture).]

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