No room for bullies
Let me set up a dilemma for you and then I’m going to ask you to solve it. Ready?
You are a farmer who raises cattle and you get up one morning to check on your herd in the pasture. As you approach, you realize something is terribly wrong. Cows are running everywhere out of control. Each cow seems to be gripped in fear and running in a crazed panic. The pasture is getting destroyed, and the cows are injuring themselves by running into one another.
That’s when you see it. In the middle of the chaos is one large bull with horns. For some reason, this bull is charging every cow in the pasture.
Now, what do you do?
You are probably throwing your hands up right now thinking, “Really Jeff, you need help figuring this one out?” It’s obvious, right? You get rid of the bull. Problem solved!
But wait, not so fast.
Before you get to the gate you hear one of your neighbors shout, “Hey, before you remove that bull. Can you really judge a bull for being a bully?”
Now, what do you do? Well, that’s an easy one too. You give the bull into the “loving” care of your neighbor. Get it??
Thanks for playing along.
With all pastoral puns aside, you probably have heard Jesus referred to as our Good Shepherd. Ezekiel was a prophet in a time when the nation of Israel was longing for a good shepherd to lead them. The political leaders of the time were doing what some of our leaders still do today: taking good care of the rich and ignoring how the poor and marginal were being treated. They refused to judge and intervene when the powerful “bullied” and took advantage of those with less power.
In Ezekiel 34, the prophet points to a Savior, a Shepherd who would come from the line of David who would do the opposite of what the world does. He would make extra room for the weak, tenderly care for the disenfranchised. He’d ensure that his flock is not scattered, bringing unity.
Here’s a verse that proclaims the good news of Jesus as our Shepherd:
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. Ezekiel 34:20-22 (NIV)
Thankfully, we have a Sovereign Lord who judges righteously. And notice that his judgment is for the good of the whole flock leaving no sheep behind. God’s judgment is one and the same as the Good Shepherd’s, aiming for the safety and provision of all the flock in his care.
May the good news that God has judged you worthy of his grace, mercy, and love enable you to feel safe in his care. Let us not be like the neighbor allowing bulls to create chaos and injure those with less power. Empowered by the Spirit, let us join Jesus in bringing peace.
Presented by Jeff Broadnax
About the presenter:
The Word of Life each Sunday is taken from Speaking of Life, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/ ), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Jeff Broadnax is a GCI elder in Grace Communion International in the USA, and serves as National Coordinator of GCI Generation Ministries.
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