Shepherding God’s Flock (2)
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17.3
As shepherds we must always remember that we are sheep, part of the Lord’s flock. The first work by which Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd was that of knowing His sheep: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep” (Jn. 10.14, cf. vv. 2, 3). Jesus knows His sheep, that is, He loves us, attends to each one according to our needs, feeds and cares for us, and calls us by name.
The first duty of sheep, therefore, is to know the Shepherd Who knows them: “I know My sheep, and am known by my own” (Jn. 10.14). If the flocks of the Lord are to know Him, and thus to love and serve Him, they must be shepherded by those who are increasing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord continually (2 Pet. 3.18). In his Pastoral Handbook, Gregory the Great insisted on this: “The unskilfulness of shepherds is rebuked by the voice of the Truth, when it is said through the prophet, The shepherds themselves have not known understanding (Isai. lvi.11); whom again the Lord denounces, saying, And they that handle the law knew Me not (Jer. ii.8). And therefore the Truth complains of not being known of them, and protests that He knows not the principality of those who know not Him; because in truth these who know not the things of the Lord are unknown of the Lord…”
Paul wrote that knowing the Lord is our highest calling, and that we must strive and press on daily to increase in that knowledge (Phil. 3.7-14). If knowing Jesus is not our first, highest, and most constant concern, how can we teach the things of Jesus to our flock, so that they might know Him?
The work of shepherds consists of helping the people of God to connect with Him – to know, love, fear, and serve Him in every area of their lives. This work cannot be fulfilled by one who is merely a good speaker, an effective organizer, or an inspiring motivator. This work must be done by one who truly knows the Lord. For unless we know the Lord, the Lord will not know us, and He will not honor our labors.
Resources for Shepherds
What does it mean to know the Lord? How can we increase in the knowledge of Jesus, so that we know, love, and serve Him increasingly? Our book, To Know Him, is a verse exposition of Philippians 3.7-14. It can help you reflect on the state of your pursuit of Jesus. Learn more about To Know Him and order your free copy by clicking here.
To receive an overview of the work of shepherding – and the contents of our workbook – watch this brief video.
Preaching is an important part of the work of a shepherd, but just because we stand behind a pulpit and spout spiritual words at people doesn’t mean we’re preaching. Well, it didn’t mean that for William Cowper, at any rate. The great poet and hymn-writer took issue with the preaching of his day in his lengthy poem, The Task. We have excerpted Cowper’s observations and concerns and woven them into an Essay on Preaching. You can order a free copy by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Those who truly know the Lord will eagerly serve Him by good works. Celtic Christians understood this. Here’s a preview of Thursday’s Crosfigell study in a series entitled “A Celtic Christian Worldview”. The series unpacks the teaching of a remarkable but anonymous 7th-century text entitled The Book of the Order of Creatures:
“For it is not enough not to do evil to attain the kingdom of heaven, if anyone has not been careful to do good deeds. For it is taught by the Lord equally through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Refrain from acting wickedly, learn to do good.’ [Is. 1.16, 17] Through the psalmist also the selfsame Spirit of the Lord prophesies these same words: Turn from evil and do good. [Ps. 36.27]
- The Book of the Order of Creatures XIII.6
We are created and saved for good works. The more we know Jesus, Who is our Good Shepherd, the more His goodness will be wrought in us in good works.
Crosfigell is mailed every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe to Crosfigell today (click here to update your subscriptions). Be sure you click each teaching letter you want to receive, (including Pastor to Pastor), and follow us through our devotional study of this remarkable document.
Check out our Celtic Legacy podcast and the other resources available on our dedicated Celtic Revival home page.
If you’d like to explore a 28-day sampler of our Crosfigell teaching letter, order a copy of our devotional guide, Be Thou My Vision. In it you’ll find excerpts from writings of the period of the Celtic Revival, together with Scripture and meditations to help you grow in your vision of Christ, exalted in glory. Order your free copy of Be Thou My Vision by clicking here.
T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Davies, p. 23