Shepherds contend against the wolves
Yesterday a colleague re-introduced me to a word that I haven’t used in a while but I just fell in love with it again. The word she used is ‘contend’. I shall be using it a lot now!
John 10 v11-13 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
The wolves are returning. In January 2020 a YouGov survey showed that 44% of the British population were in favour of reintroducing the wolf. Last year a Scottish environmentalist began plans to bring back the wolf onto a 50,000 enclosed acre of ground to begin to hunt the over-populated deer and to bring in tourism who will want to watch such hunting. A loss is another’s gain I guess!
Jesus doesn’t say if but when the wolf comes.
Church … the wolf will come.
Pastors … the wolf will come.
It is the most natural thing we know. Animals prey on other animals. Only when the created order is redeemed at the end of time will the wolf live with the lamb (Isaiah 11) and will they feed together (Isaiah 65:25).
Until then the wolf is coming. It is not extinct. When it attacks and the sheep scatter and disaster occurs on a church there are always tourists with their cameras and vultures hovering to pick off the vulnerable. But the picture is not half as bleak if there is a shepherd on a cross nearby having laid down their life. The worst picture is when there is no shepherd at all. The pen has been ransacked, dead and maimed sheep lie on the ground and the others have gone. Why? There was no shepherd after all. The one occupying the position was just a hired hand. There was no true call to the pen. With no true call there was nothing to contend for. Shepherds contend for their calling to the sheep.
Jesus calls himself the good shepherd meaning obviously there are bad ones. Steeped in their culture is the picture of the shepherd. Ezekiel prophesied of the bad shepherds, the hired hands, those not called in chapter 34:
- They take care of themselves, v2
- They have a good life, v3
- They do not work hard strengthening, healing, bringing back, finding the lost, v4
- They lead harshly, v4
These shepherds are rubbish. They are occupying positions that should never have been given to them. The wolf will come and they will run and the sheep will die and scatter.
Where is the shepherd that contend for the church?
If you are a hired hand then keep running but SHEPHERDS come back, return to the pen, don’t leave it open, the wolf is coming, we need you to lay your life down. Contend!