Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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In His Footsteps

Reading: 1st Peter 2: 19-25

Verse 25: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”.

Today our passage contains a reference to sheep and/or shepherds. This metaphor carries us through this week. Sheep were plentiful in Palestine. The landscape and climate were not well-suited to cattle; sheep were the primary source of both meat and wool. Sheep are funny critters. In that way, they are a lot like us. But the commonalities do not end there. Although generally good followers, at times sheep will wander. Although exclusively loyal to the voice of their shepherd, at times they do not understand or remember the words spoken. Although docile and timid in general, on occasion they become playful or rambunctious – depending on your perspective. Although not known as trouble makers, once in a while sheep will get into a spot or predicament that does require some maneuvering to get back out of. Some suffering may be required.

In 1st Peter 2 today we read about times of suffering for our faith. Peter reminds us, “to this you were called”. Peter is writing within the context of submitting to masters. He includes kings, governors, and slave owners in the list of masters. We would have different titles today, but the principles remain the same. We are still called to respect and submit to authority. In our lives Jesus has the ultimate authority. That is one of Peter’s points. In our day and age, being obedient to Christ can bring some suffering our way. In our land that usually looks like a little ridicule, maybe some ostracizing, and possibly a little self-denial. Once in a while our faith may lead us to take a stand or to enter into a situation that brings some adversity or a bit of discomfort. These are not situations that we step into lightly – especially the second or third or… times. They come with a cost. Yet this is precisely what Peter is calling us to when he writes, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps”. Whether it was injustice or oppression or false religion or unethical behavior, Jesus stepped in and confronted it head on. And there was always a cost. None of us have to look far to find an ill or a difficult situation that needs addressed. We are called to follow in the footsteps of our Shepherd. Instead of sheep simply going astray, may we boldly and courageously follow in Jesus’ footsteps. May we each shine light into the darkness, building the kingdom here on earth.

Prayer: Dear God, give me courage both to see and to act. Lead me into the darkness, that your light and love may be known. Gird me up, making me willing to pay the cost for you and for the building of your kingdom here in this place. Go with me, O God. Amen.

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His Response

An Old testament belief and one that persists in some Christians today is the belief that bad things or trials are punishment from God.  It is true that in the Old Testament there was punishment.  The flood is perhaps the greatest example of this.

In the New Testament God is revealed in a different way.  In Jesus we see a new way.  Jesus teaches that a person’s blindness, for example, is not the result of the parent’s sins or even the sins of the person being afflicted.  God does not choose to smite us.

Jesus also reveals that at times, hard choices are required.  He also makes it clear that it is we who have to make the choices.  One example would be the rich young ruler – he would not give up his great wealth to follow Jesus.  It was a hard choice for him, but still his choice to make.

When adversity comes our way or when we face a hard choice, how our faith figures into the situation is paramount.  Often in the trial we become closer to God because in our weakness He is made strong.  When we depend on Him, we find He hears us and draws near and walks with us.

When we face a tough decision, in many of the cases we know what we should do, what God wants us to do.  In some of these cases we still may make a poor choice…  Sometimes though we are unsure.  It is then we need Him most. And His response is the same – He hears us and draws near and walks with us.  Thanks be to God for His faithfulness.

Scripture reference: Psalm 22: 23-25