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It Is Not All Your Fault, Just Some of It

By Mark+ Walz

A couple of weeks ago, I preached a sermon about the prophecy of Jeremiah that one day the shepherds (leaders) of Israel would be replaced by the one Good Shepherd. The reason? They failed to lead and to protect God’s people as they were put in position to do. Check this out:

“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the LORD… ‘you have scattered my flock and have driven them away.’”

One of the implications here cannot be overlooked, that in order to thrive people need a good shepherd. And when there were none, God’s people ended up afraid, discouraged, and just plain “missing.”

I can’t help but think of the state our nation and the state of the Church. People are afraid and discouraged. And after covid that description of ‘missing’ people has never been more common in the Church than it is today. Where are the people of God? If there is truth here in Jeremiah, it does not seem an unreasonable conclusion that much of it has to do with terrible and even evil leaders. Bad leaders are capable of destroying and scattering the people of God.

Now it is quite popular to think that everyone is a king unto himself, that we are on our own and only answer to ourselves. Though it is popular, it is quite wrong. We have a responsibility to one another and for one another to some degree. And we are influenced by people over us. They can absolutely encourage or discourage us. And if that is true, it is not too big a leap to see how they might ‘scatter’ and lose us. And even though that may not sit well with our American sensibilities, the flip side of this coin helps us also to bear the weight of failure.

You see, by understanding that we are not alone and on our own (our own kings, so to speak), then we can also see that who we are and the state we are in is not all of our fault. We are here or there, discouraged or scattered, because in part our leaders failed us. When leaders fail, people are destroyed. This is true whether you’re talking about a country, a business, a family, a team, or a church.

What do we do?

We remember and celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ! He has come to tell us that the Kingdom of God has come and is coming, and the head of that nation is the Good Shepherd. This Good News has always braced and encouraged the Church, even when our mortal leaders fail we know of our one true leader. Christ is King, and since we know we are not our own little islands, that truth has the power to bring courage, enliven hope, and find the lost.

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