Sunday 6 June
1 Peter 5:1-7
To Lead and To Feed
As we are in our penultimate passage in 1st Peter it is good to be reminded that Peter is calling Christians to live vibrant Christian lives. He is writing to Christians, calling them “God’s elect” chapter 1:1, who are “called by God” chapter 1:2 having “been born again through the living and enduring word of God” 1:23. In chapter 2:5 Peter asserts that we are “living stones which are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ”. In chapter 4:14 Peter says “the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”. All of these things and more, mean that we have a role to play in leading and feeding the church and in helping the lost – because Christ died to bring you and others to God chapter 3:18.
Our fifth chapter begins by urging elders to shine God’s radiant glory upon others.
Verse 1 ‘To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow-elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed’
It makes me think of the Ready Break glow from the old adverts. Being an elder is an awesome responsibility and privilege.
I am a fellow elder in this church too, just as Peter declares he is a fellow elder. Further he and we are to be a witness to Christ’s sufferings. None of us are immune from suffering, but how we live out our faith in times of pain, grief and chaos has real significance. Witnessing is about proclaiming testimony and we can do that in words and through our love and actions too. Both and not either is best. Just because you may have failed in the past does not mean you need to fail in the future – Remember Peter denying Jesus three times, Paul vehemently pursued Christians to have them locked up and John Mark deserted Paul in his mission at one point too.
In verse 1 what does ‘will share in the glory to be revealed’ mean? Well Peter was one who had seen Jesus’ glory in action and particularly on the mount of transfiguration as well as at the point where he testified that Jesus was the Messiah. However, he testifies as someone like us who was a sinner whom Jesus forgives. He had no doubt that the Messiah will be glorious in His quest against sin, death and Satan, and will return to glory in eternity as the one to who all will bow the knee. His words declare we vibrant Christians will share in His glory because we are His and He has paid our debt.
In verse 2 we see elders’ twofold task:
(i) to be shepherds of the flock of those who come under their care, and
(ii) to oversee.
The elders are supposed to prevent the flock from going astray, and let us remember that it is God’s flock – and if elders themselves go astray and are not fully committed to this, that is a real tragedy. The question arises, should they have been elders in the first place? In addition, they are to personally oversee by teaching, caring, supporting and praying with and for those under their care. Their example should be glowing too. (Ready Break Glow again)
The enemy is a roaring lion who seeks to devour – so elders need to help protect and to enable the flock to survive and flourish.
As an overseer, leadership has a responsibility to plan, resource, enable, and work out strategies to advance the kingdom. It includes training the next generation of leaders. If some under their care are in error, they should challenge and correct, so close attention and care for all is vital.
Peter has some real positive and negative orders in the rest of our reading – so as well as being careful shepherds who are to serve as overseers in verse 2, he says “not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; verse 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Our role is not to be driven by duty rotas or desire to play our part, or about what we can gain from an important position of trust. Instead, it’s about a willing sense, to serve God for His benefit.
Coming under God’s word on the Sabbath each week is about asking God to keep us fresh, and still learning rather than being jaded or unteachable.
The congregation can also appreciate the work their elders do as well as encouraging them to care for any who they know who might appreciate it. I often wonder how many of our elders get satisfaction in the good things that they do for Christ’s kingdom?
The pay in this life for their service is not good, but the rewards can come in this life and the next but the best reward is mentioned in verse 4 – The crown of glory which cannot fade away (It’s that glow once more). The last part of this warning is that we are not to LORD it over others. Just like in the secular world, some church leaders enjoy having power and status. Elders do have some power and status, but are called to serve as a fitting example of what it means to be a Christian in the best sense – that best example is of course our Saviour’s example – denying Himself, taking up His cross etc. He is the chief shepherd mentioned in verse 4. He hands out the prizes, to those He knows have done what is required, with willing hearts and talents which He gave to them to utilise for His kingdom.
In verses 5 and 6 we learn how we can manage to do this. Humility is under rated in this world but highly valued by God. As well as that God gives grace to the humble and who does not want the grace God is willing to bestow upon them? Respecting your elders in both senses of that word too is mentioned concerning younger folk too.
So how are we all doing with this? Does it make us anxious or concerned about the times we fall short? Peter offers us a most lovely memory verse in verse 7
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Don’t carry your anxieties or fret about your short comings – Take it to the LORD in Prayer as the Hymn asserts. And we can do this because “He cares for YOU”. If Jesus cares for you that surely trumps pretty much most other things.
So, let’s remember God calls our elders and leaders to help us and to grow Christ’s kingdom through their concern, love and Christian witness and oversight.
So of course, he calls the rest of us to utilise their example and learn to be living witnesses for Christ’s kingdom too.
The rewards are a CROWN of glory which no one can take away. Get your ready break glow on each day and let’s build the church here and wherever God provides the opportunities to serve, lead, feed and witness for His name.
So let us be ready and glowing, in order to make the most of these opportunities. Let us do so humbly trusting in our helper, Saviour and loving Father.