A Fellowship of Undershepherds

t4g.jpgThe conference is under way. It is well attended; even a bit snug – you could say that we’re really together here! But it has been a blessing to see so many pastors who have gathered together for fellowship in the precious Gospel of our risen Savior. I will make very brief posts as I have a very limited budget of time here, but I will mention that I was very encouraged to hear Mark Dever’s presentation of The Pastor’s Understanding of His Own Role. The one thing that continued to resonate with me is this theme of the pastor as an undershepherd. While I can’t recall that he used this term per se – this was indeed his point, clearly argued from 1 Corinthians 4.

This important meditation turned my thoughts again to John 21:15-17, where the Savior charged Peter to tend His lambs; to shepherd His sheep and to tend His sheep. Three times Peter was given the reminder that his stewardship in Christ was that of an undershepherd, whose responsibility was to serve on behalf of the Chief Shepherd who purchased His sheep with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Without such a foundation a shepherd will only look to shepherd and feed the sheep after his own whims and appetites – this is no small principle – it is massive.

Ever since I began serving in pastoral ministry, I have used this term – undershepherd in order to describe this understanding of true pastoral ministry. However, I find that the knowledge of this principle is one that will never be fully exhausted during the days of human groaning and travail since every day of ministry is yet another opportunity to grow in my conviction and application of this truth. It is like the one who says “I love the Lord my God.” That has been true ever since the Lord, in His precious and sovereign grace, enlivened our hearts to love Him – however, we will all go to the grave while seeking to know the breadth and length and height and depth of His infinite love, while seeking to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. We are like miners who seek to dig deeper and deeper for the riches of God’s Word; even looking for the riches of how we should live in view of what He has revealed; and while we will find much wealth in such digging, our wealth in this life will be dwarfed by the perfection that will come in the world and life to come. Until then, I’ll just put my hard-hat on and continue plummeting God’s riches for the sake of my own life and doctrine, as well as for those whom I serve on behalf of the Chief Shepherd (1 Timothy 4:14-16).

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