Pastoral Vision (3)
“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10.4
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3.2, 3
In any enterprise or activity, leaders are required who have a sense of where things ought to be heading and how everyone must participate to realize that larger objective. In the church, as Jesus explained, shepherds are the ones who must lead the Lord’s flocks with the confidence and vision of Christ. The goal of a local church is to increase in being the Body of Christ, where unity of faith and the knowledge of Christ lead to maturity in Him and, thus, in the Presence of Jesus in the larger community (Eph. 4.12-16)
It takes vision to make progress to such an end, and that vision begins with how we think about each believer’s calling to follow Jesus Christ. In his fascinating work, The Instructor, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) offered a concise statement from which a powerful vision of Christian life might be described: “Truly, then, are we the children of God, who have put aside the old man, and stripped off the garment of wickedness, and put on the immortality of Christ; that we may become a new, holy people by regeneration, and may keep the man undefiled.”
What could be more concise, or offer more opportunity for fleshing out our vision for the life of faith?
Shepherds lead their churches by vision, as Jesus led His disciples. That vision must include both what we see for ourselves and the members of our churches, as we mature into holiness, and what we see for our churches, as they grow in unity and maturity as the Body of Christ.
In each case, no better model can serve to inform our vision than Jesus Christ Himself. We must not allow our vision of the church or the life of faith to be informed by Christian pop culture—songs, art, preaching, and the like. Rather, we must use these and all other resources according to the vision God gives us in His Word. God has painted out the portrayed of Christ in His glory throughout the pages of His Word (Jn. 5.39). Only when we seek Jesus there, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things in the Spirit of God, will we see Him truly as He is, and begin to be like Him (1 Cor. 2.12, 13; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Resources for Shepherds
Both Colum Cille and Columbanus (late 6th, early 7th century) were effective shepherds of God’s flock. We need to know more about such shepherds of the past, that our own lives and ministries may be enriched by theirs. Our PDF book, Columbanus: A Devotional History, is available simply by clicking here. In thirty brief meditations—including excerpts from Scripture and Columbanus’ writings as well as questions for reflection and a psalm to sing—we highlight those aspects of Columbanus’ life and work that can benefit us today. And watch these pages for the soon publication of Colum Cille: A Devotional History as well.
From the Celtic Revival
Part of the success of Patrick’s ministry was his complete reliance on the Word of God. And that reliance included the Law of God:
“‘Woe unto them who fill themselves
with that which is not theirs,’ and ‘He who delves
into the world for profit, though he gain
the whole, shall lose his soul and know the pain
of loss.’ Yet tedious would it be to show
from all the Law what any man can know
who reads it: Avarice is a mortal sin.
‘You shall in no way covet what is in
your neighbor’s hand.’ ‘You shall not kill.’ For he
who murders cannot with the Savior be.
‘Who hates his brother kills,’ or, we may say,
‘Who does not love his brother walks the way
- Patrick, Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus
Patrick understood what James insisted, that the Law of God is a Law of liberty. If we want to know the truth in Jesus that sets us free from bondage to this world, we must not neglect the Law of God in our personal studies and in every facet of our ministries.
You can follow Patrick’s story by subscribing to Crosfigell. Update your subscriptions or start a new one by clicking here.
Want to learn about more of the great leaders of the Celtic Revival? You can download the PDF of our book, Lives of Irish Saints, by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
Support for Pastor to Pastor comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.
And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390..
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.