Believers love to belong to a community. To meet other brothers and sisters, to spend time in the company of one another, to build each other up, to pray, to glorify God. There are thousands of denominations where everyone can find the community that suits them best. This all sounds good at first, but not everyone is satisfied with that.
In the word of God we can see that God likens His children to sheep, and the sheep live in flocks. So it is really ideal for the sheep to belong to a flock where they protect, strengthen each other, that is, take care of each other.
But unfortunately this is not the case everywhere, in fact, it is mostly the experience that believers live only in a superficial community. That’s why many people can’t find the right community for them.
„The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. "Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. "As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? "Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.”
A sheep should be fed first and foremost, with the right food that keeps it healthy, strong and reproductive. Usually, church teachings only strengthen believers. It contains reassurance, praise, encouragement, but it only convinces believers that everything is fine. Proper nutrition, on the other hand, makes believers healthy and productive.
What does it mean to be healthy by teaching the Word? It’s not about physical health, it’s about a healthy relationship with God. So that is the teaching by which we keep ourselves from sin. However, this is only half a success, as we may still be idle from it. That is why we need to be fertile, just as a sheep gives milk and can dress in its wool. So it is our fertility, that is, our good fruit, when we do good by obeying the word of God.
We must definitely do the task we have received from God. And this task is not a personal but a global call from God to all believers: and that is good works!
„So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And by fire we mean gehenna, which means damnation. Paul also speaks of the importance of good works:
„For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
But what if we don’t belong to a church? If we have not found the right spiritual food? Nevertheless, the commandment from God remains, so good deeds remain obligatory for all believers. But how do we produce fruit without proper nutrition? It is impossible to produce good fruit without proper nutrition. However, food from God can also come directly from God, without the need for a pastor or teacher. So there is no need for an mediator:
„But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."”
It is very difficult for many to feed directly from God because they do not hear or recognize the voice of God. It’s easier to hear from a preacher’s mouth, but we can’t trust people as much as God.
It is easier for us to have an interpreter than to learn a foreign language. But if our lives depend on it, let us not rely on an interpreter who translates freely as he pleases, but learn to understand the message directly from God, because keeping the word of God can be life or death for us.
It can even be a trial when we are left without brothers and sisters to see how true our faith is. Maybe we believed in a community? We believed in a brother?
It is really easier to stay in faith if everything is fine with us and around us. But it is a state of comfort that does not require much faith from us. What we see with our eyes does not require faith, but when God hides Himself from us, it really shows how much faith we have in Him.
„This same Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.”
We have to stand in faith one by one, we must not get tired or compromise. Do not wait for a sign from God, for the encouragement or help of brethren. Let us produce good fruits that glorify God.
(April 24, 2021)