The heart of any shepherd is to reconcile, to gather, to unite yet the culture seems scattered by controversial shepherds and angry sheep empowered by churches that divide and condemn. How do we shepherd in tense places and help to heal the world until there is “one flock and one shepherd?”
Throughout the story of Exodus God is “with” his people in the form of a fire and a cloud. And as long as he is, Israel is safe. How does this inform the ministry of Presence for a shepherd? Why is the presence of some so powerful, and others … well, not? When is Presence most important? And how does one practice it with increasing skill?
From the previous sermons on shepherding, one could almost forget that it’s sometimes hard and frustrating work. The challenges, the risks, the raw emotion that comes with caring for others can discourage us or tempt us to stay with only the most compliant. From Moses life comes these lessons for navigating the challenges of this good, but sometimes frustrating work.
Something happens when we notice we notice what’s happening. We see things (or people) that others don’t see. And we see them, not because we’re looking for them, but because we’re looking into them, where no one else is looking. Who are the people God wants us to notice? What are we looking for? And what does God want us to do with them? In this message, we’ll discover who, exactly, God wants us to shepherd.
As we continue to look at the uninvited companions who fill Jesus’ life and ours, this week we turn to those who disappoint us. These are the “followers” who are difficult to lead.
It’s been said that you can’t have the right friends if you don’t have the right enemies. In this popular story, we are called to confront our enemies in the Name and power of God. But our posture is not one of anger or violence, but one of humility and complete trust that “God will hand our enemies over” in His time and in His way. Our battle is not for our sake, and it is not in our armor, but in His “so that the whole world will know that there is a God and that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s,” (17:46-47).
The success of any venture is disproportionate to one person, to the one who is called. But what if that person doesn’t feel called? What if they’re not very good at the thing God calls them to do? Many of us have been in that place and some are in it now. “Fake it till you make it,” is the most common approach. But here is a better one: Take off your shoes for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Moses is an example of someone, like us, who is called out of our weakness instead of our strength. Rather than fighting against our deficiencies, or hiding them as is more common today, Moses encourages us to use them as leverage for the power of God.