Feeding and Leading
So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.
As we move our way through the book of Colossians, I am reminded once again of the Apostle Paul’s compassion for and zeal to protect the members of that church. Remember, most of them he had never met and probably would never meet personally. He reminds me of what it means to not just fit but to belong to a local church and the importance of standing together within the community that love has built.
I may be part of the leadership in our congregation, but I am no more or less a member than you are. We--every one of us--have a responsibility to serve the ministry and mission of local church that gathers on Millersburg Road. We might not have the same function, but we rise to serve from the same foundation.
I challenge you to consider how you might evaluate how you are doing in your role as well. As I further consider the Apostle Paul and his missionary efforts, I am amazed by his travels to preach the gospel and establish churches in the lands of the Gentiles. Remember that Ephesus seems to have a particularly special place in his heart—the church in that location, I mean. As mobile as he was, he stayed with these people for three years. And it was from there that a man named Epaphras would have heard the gospel and carried it back to his hometown of Colossae. Without him, would we even have the “Letter to the Colossians?”
As we come to the closing chapters of Acts, Paul has one final meeting with the elders of the church in Ephesus. He leaves them, telling them that they won’t see his face again. Amidst the tears of that farewell is a final exhortation to these leaders. He tells them to “keep watch, “ to “guard” their own lives as well as the lives of those in that church. Feed them and lead them like a shepherd, for they are God’s flock. As Christ is the “Good Shepherd,” leaders in the church are to represent him in the way they lead. Paul’s final word to them is a call to remember who they are, and in light of this to remember what they are to be doing.
It is interesting that the Apostle, in telling them to guard their own lives, isn’t telling the leaders to do something that we shouldn’t all be doing. But the function of elders is to also provide that level of oversight and accountability, not only to themselves but also for the membership of the church.
When you think of membership you most naturally think of the benefits you are paying for when you belong to something. It could be a gym or a swimming pool, a neighborhood association or a gun club. Whatever the organization, we evaluate the membership based on the privileges it gives us. The church is certainly not devoid of the privileges of membership. As we process the challenges, disappointments, and grief in our lives, the sense of community we share as the local church is irreplaceable. But that is not why we belong to a church.
Membership in the local church, here at CFC, is a place of function. It’s a place of finding out more about how we can serve instead of just being served. That this is true of our identity doesn’t make it any easier to move counter to our cultural expectations of membership. We have to work at it. A new MEMBERSHIP CLASS starts next week. If you've not yet committed to membership at CFC, please come to learn more about this.
As an elder of this church, I must “look” to my own part in this body--a member who serves not just because I am set apart as a pastor, but because I am a member of CFC. Our shared foundation, which is our union with Christ, is the launching point of a variety of functions in serving. Let us all look to ourselves, keep watch, and be about the mission of Christ’s commission.