God and the Church: God is Good to His People
God’s goodness and particularly his goodness manifested in Jesus Christ, is for the benefit of His people, the Church. What is the church? According to the Bible, the church is an assembly or a gathering of believers. We recognize this in referring to church as a congregation or a fellowship.
A flock of sheep is a wonderful biblical picture of a congregation. This picture of a flock of sheep also fits with the picture of Christ, who is the good Shepherd. That is why we cannot talk about the Church apart from Jesus Christ, just like you cannot speak of a flock of sheep, without its shepherd.
John 10:11-15 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Firstly, consider the vulnerability of sheep without a shepherd. When the wolf threatens the sheep, they are not aware of the coming danger, and when they do become aware, it is at the time when the wolf snatches at them. Sheep do not plan to subvert dangers; they merely react to immediate threats. The natural tendency for any sheep facing immediate danger is to flee in the direction it is facing. This results in the scattering of the sheep, further exposing the weak and the frail in the flock.
Secondly, know that the flock is gathered together for their care and safety. The local church is a gathering of believers in a particular place, for the ministry and safety of all the local believers.
The Church is not formed as result of a spiritual attack on Christians, just as sheep are not gathered by threats and attacks from outside. The flock is gathered by the Good Shepherd to prevent and minimize the results of threats and dangers. Think about it; when you build a house, you do not build it in the midst of a storm, do you? You build it when the sun is shining, so that you may have shelter when the rain and storms come. The same applies to the regular gathering together of the church. The Word of God is ministered to your soul as you enjoy fellowship with God and with His people, so that when difficulties come, you would have cultivated a solid relationship with God and his people to see you through difficult times.
Thirdly, consider the lesson in renewal of a proper fear of God in the heart of every church member. When difficult circumstances do come, it gives every Christian opportunity to reflect on and experience the familial* fear of God. The question in difficult times is: Will I wait upon the Lord and trust him? Or will I be desperate to get a hold on my circumstances? If we ignore the opportunity of renewed familial fear of God, we will find it difficult to feel and experience the goodness of our Heavenly Father.
How do we recover such familial fear? We need to be diligent in prayer before or Father in Heaven. Through prayer we prepare ourselves for the call of the Good Shepherd. We also need to come under the ministry of the Word of Christ, especially through the preaching of the Bible.
Christians are called to put aside personal and individual interests for the sake of Christ’s body, of which he/she is a member. Let us with renewed fear and earnestness make use of every opportunity to assemble and worship, under the headship and ministry of the Good Shepherd.
1Cor 12:13-14 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. Verse 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
May all of God’s people yearn for the assembly and fellowship of God’s people.
* Familial fear is reverence and awe owed to God our Father. This is not the fear of dread and terror.