Grace to Offer Ourselves to Others

A Shepherd’s Reality
When we consider the life of a shepherd in the field with her or his flock, we are aware that they face heat by day, cold by night, rain or snow at either time, bandits, thieves, Unknownpredators, and all sorts of stuff sheep get themselves into – sore hooves, briers, cliffs, illnesses, holes,
snakes….Shepherding is a never-ending demanding job.

Little wonder that God uses the shepherd metaphor to describe how he relates to us – he pours himself out to us, always tending to as the sheep of his pasture. Our Lord is the Shepherd-King!

Jesus suffered for our well-being. So too do shepherds endure hardship in pursuit of the well-being of those for whom they care.

Like Shepherd, like shepherds.

Gospel Orientation
The temptation is to bear down and just press on in this work. But there is no gospel in “try harder.”

unnamed 2The invitation for all of our life in Christ is him living his life in and through us. Paul’s well-known testimony is “not I, but Christ lives his life in me (Galatians 2:20).”

As shepherds, we abide in Christ that he may  live his life through us as we care for others.

This is not merely a utilitarian relationship. It is one born of sacrificial love. Jesus has given his life for and to us in love for his Father and for us. The Father and the Son have sent the Spirit to bind us to themselves and to pour out life and love into us. As shepherds, this is what (who) we offer to others.

So as we press on in the care of others, even at personal cost to ourselves, Jesus will live his life in us and through us. Outwardly, we may experience all sorts of adversities, inwardly God will be renewing us day by day (see 2 Corinthians 4).

This is the Christ-life manifested in the context of our service to others.

Here is how Paul described it, “He (Jesus) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me (Colossians 1:28-29, emphasis mine).”

Christ powerfully works in Paul. Paul strenuously contends for the maturation of the flocks.

Fear Not Hardship
Fear is one way the enemy causes us to draw back. What if I am rejected? What if I am misunderstood? What if this costs me too much? What if…..?

Jesus knows all these concerns and he continues to pour his life into us. The Gospel orientation in life is that because Jesus is always enough, there is always enough to go around.

Jesus’ all sufficiency is in direct opposition to a scarcity mindset.

So we lean into Jesus and he offers himself to us and through us to others.

Be encouraged. Jesus is with you and in you. The Father sees you and pours his life into yours through the Spirit and the written Word. We are never alone.

How has God been shaping and using you in this area of caring for others?

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