Tag Archives: ethics

The Good Shepherd

weekly theme #25*

week containing the fourth Sunday of Easter

As I prayed for each home on my cal-de-sac, I realized how long it had been since I visited with some of them.  The beginning verses of Jeremiah rebuke the leaders of Israel for being Shepherds who have mistreated their flock.  I’m sort of the Shepherd of my cal-de-sac as an overflow of being a disciple of Jesus.  I have mistreated these in my care by neglect.  Along that line, Ezekiel 34:11-16 begins with the familiar description of the caring, sacrificing, and loving Shepherd tending his needy sheep.  The tone changes at the end of the reading – “But I will destroy those [sheep] who are fat and powerful.  I will feed them, yes – feed them justice!”  (verse 16b)  Am I a “fat and powerful” sheep who withholds charity from other sheep?

Neglect is not a term I would use for my Shepherd, Jesus.  When I say that I can’t sense God or that he is distant from me, the truth is that I have distanced myself from him.  I created the separation.  I can take as a fact that no matter what I have done or wherever I find myself, there is a path back to the Shepherd from that very place.  The Shepherd longs for me.

I struggle with Christians who have the mindset of ethics by law.  Some Christians seem to be more interested in making laws than making disciples.  Jesus’ compassion, his mercy, is in opposition to the idea of making laws that externally try to force people to do what is “right”.  Jesus’ ethics comes from within me, from the Holy Spirit. Inside of me, of any believer, can be the fruit and ethics of the Holy Spirit, oozing out into the fruitless exterior filled with anger, judgment, and hypocrisy.  Paul’s counsel regarding the selection of church leaders describes people who live in step with Holy Spirit and exhibit corresponding behaviors in their everyday lives.  Sheep need to focus on the Shepherd, not other sheep.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.”  Psalm 23 says the Shepherd provides rest, guidance, strength, protection, comfort, belonging, love, and hope.  These qualities connect well with 1 Peter 2:21-25, which says the Shepherd did not protect himself but sacrificed himself to save his sheep.  The Lord is my Shepherd, I have (he is) everything I need.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

Leave a comment

Filed under by weekly theme, Inside Phipps

Christianity Beyond Belief

Todd D Hunter has written an engaging book.  In my opinion, the foundation of the book is the idea that the goal of the Christian life is not to get into heaven but to live like Jesus.  I venture to say some of you are saying, “Of course!”  But there are many in the USA church who do not live that way.  It’s actually an interesting clash in most of us.  We certainly want to go to heaven, and we’re counting on going there, but our minds and lives are rooted deeply in this world.  The concept Jesus mentions in his most famous prayer, “thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”, doesn’t really get fleshed out.

I really enjoyed Hunter’s concept of living in God’s story.  The Bible starts with creation and ends with the eternal river of life.  All of human history falls between those two events, and that includes my life.  And yours.  We are part of God’s story.  We have been given a speaking part in a story that includes some of the greatest characters of all time.  I awake in God’s story every day.  All I have to do is play my role as it’s written.  Yet, even though all of us have gone off script, he keeps us in the story.  He keeps pointing to the script that’s prepared especially for me.

I’ll close with a couple more of my favorite thoughts from the book: 1) My need is not so much to add spiritual activities to my life, but to make my daily activities spiritual.  2) Learning to walk with the Spirit includes some stumbles and falls.  Keep walking.  Trying and failing is success.  Not trying is failure.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.

1 Comment

Filed under Be Like Jesus, Cacophony