This past Sunday my wife at I were sitting at a restaurant when a group of people were seated next to us. It quickly became apparent that these people were new acquaintances out to share a meal and getting to know each other. These people were “church people” and they loudly and proudly proclaimed their place in the church pecking order. Of course their conversation was coached with the utmost humble sounding words and phrases. Once couple was relatively new to their church and when asked why they left their previous church I heard an all too familiar excuse, “We just weren’t being fed.”
No I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, they were just very loud and sitting next to me.
But I was amused at the couple’s excuse for leaving a church because they were not being fed. You see this comment has been a favorite excuse for many Christians. The reality is that Jesus charged the leaders of the infant church to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).
What does Jesus mean feed? Today in the 21st century most believers think of it as a passive learning process. We think of sitting through a sermon or attending a Bible study as being fed. What we really are saying when we say, "I haven't been fed much lately." Is really code for, "The Pastor's sermons are not connecting with me. I’m just not getting anything out of his messages. Therefore there must be something wrong with the Pastor, ‘cause it certainly can’t be me!”
What we are really saying is that we need to be spoon fed must like a baby. But Jesus picture of a good shepherd found in John 10 is one who leads hos sheep to a pasture for feeding. He doesn’t chew the grass for his sheep. They are expected to eat for themselves. His job is to lead them to places where they can graze. Additionally his job is to protect the flock from any and all harm. Finally the watchmen of John 10 were tasked with teaching the sheep to recognize their shepherd’s voice.
You see even today in the Middle East sheep are led not herded. They are trained to recognize the voice of their shepherd and to follow their shepherd wherever he leads them. (See John 10:4) As pastors, teachers and disciple makers aren't training our flocks to recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice than our sheep will inevitably go hungry.
Excuse me I think I hear my Shepherd calling