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Following the Shepherd

Following the Shepherd

Words of Faith 2-3-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Peter 2

    [21] To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

    [22] "He committed no sin,

        and no deceit was found in his mouth."

[23] When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. [24] He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. [25] For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

 

         We live in a world of freedom fighters and social reform.  Highest among our stated world values is the dignity of every human and the basic rights each should be afforded.  While the degree to which we live up to that lofty intention may be debated, it is seen by many as the right place of government to ensure such rights.  We honor those who fight for what is right and true.  We respect those who give their lives to win freedom.

         So how do we apply the life, suffering, and example of Christ to our own lives?

 

         Paul is not as demanding as Peter.  Paul teaches that we should have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).  That is hard enough.  Peter actually teaches that we are to follow in His steps because of His suffering for us.  It is one thing to choose to take insult or injury as we make a statement for a cause.  It is quite another to be attacked by vicious brutality.

         Do we protect family, friends, country, or property?  In times of tyranny and terror, is a Christian simply to be a doormat?   Certainly, there are times in the Bible when force and war were ordered by God, but we would be wise to never claim for ourselves a Holy war. History teaches us that we are far too human and frail to make such judgments.  Yet war is a sometimes painful and tragic necessity even if always painful and regrettable. 

         The answers to such dilemmas are only found in deep prayer.  Fighting unselfishly to protect the weak may be the prayer-soaked solution‑‑ a necessary evil‑‑ in a given situation.  Non-violent protest may be another God-guided alternative.  Suffering without returning insult may also be the obedient response to God. 

         There is probably not a rule for all situations, but we would do well to ask the time-tested question: What would Jesus do?  It is not a simple question.  We cannot caricature the "Jesus meek and mild" found on the Sunday School wall. 

         If you immerse yourself in the Gospels of Jesus, you will find a Christ of great complexity. You will find a Jesus angry at religious leaders so blinded by tradition that they could not see the human need.  You will find a Jesus cleansing a huge Temple so violently that no one dared stop Him for about three hours.  You will discover a Jesus who brought scorching criticism to the religious establishment.  You will meet a Jesus who cursed several small towns and villages which to this day, lay in ruin. You will also find the Jesus who took small children in His arms and blessed them, who forgave sins that religion could never stomach and who talked to the outcasts on the roadways and touched lepers when others cowered. 

        This Jesus‑‑ mighty, strong, powerful, gentle, and compassionate‑‑ CHOSE to suffer without returning insult or threat though He had the power of the universe at His command.  How shall you walk in His steps today?  Only the Spirit of God can be your instructor as you ask the deep questions.

 

         Lord, give me the grace to avoid the simple answers and easy formulas.  Give me grace and strength to stand up against wickedness and stand up for the weak and hurting.  Give me Your eyes to see and Your heart to respond in every situation You put before me.  In Your name, Amen.

 

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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