ALMIGHTY God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
One Flock, One Shepherd
1 St. Peter ii. 19. St. John x. 11.
Both the epistle and the gospel use the image of the Shepherd to convey important truths about our Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, and goes on to explain how he gives his life for the sheep, while in contrast the hiring will run away if he is threatened. St Peter, in the Epistle, calls Jesus the Shepherd and Bishop (overseer) of our souls.
When we commit ourselves to Christ, he becomes our protector and guardian. As we follow his voice and his leadership, he guides us along a safe pathway. In ancient times the Good Shepherd did not drive his sheep. His sheep knew his voice separate from any other person, and would follow the shepherd. The shepherd slept, ate and lived in the wild with his flock. When danger threatened, he met and guarded his sheep. Do you recall David’s discourse with Saul? In it he told King Saul that he did not fear the Philistine, for he had killed lions and bears with his sling to protect his flock.
The Good Shepherd also tells us something new about his flock. It isn’t like anything in the past. His flock is not limited to the nation of Israel, but is universal. His flock includes the gentiles (non-Jews) who shall hearken to his call and follow his lead. There will not be two flocks, one Jewish one Gentile, but rather the one flock of all his followers.
Some of the creeds of the early church captured this idea of the one flock with the term. "We believe in one catholic and apostolic church. The word catholic here is translated as universal. There is but one Church, one Lord, one Faith, one Good Shepherd. He is the Lord of all.
It is unfortunate that our Lord’s one flock is now so divided. Issues continue to divide the Body. A recent example is the Episcopal Church of the United States. It decided, as a body, to ignore the collective voice of the entire Anglican Communion. Their decisions have created in a rift in the World Wide Anglican Communion – about the "Authority of Scripture". The same types of issues are challenging the unity of the Church everywhere.
However, these issues cannot divide the true Church of God. Trends of the day cannot alter his Word; it is immutable. Each generation must read the Scriptures in terms of what they meant when they were written – and understand them in terms of the circumstances of the times. Then judiciously and carefully apply them to today’s circumstances. In the end times we, the saints, will all be gathered together with the Lord with no distinctions as to form or function of worship or doctrine, and our eyes shall be opened to the truth and unity of the One Flock under the One Shepherd. Remember the words of St. Paul how he said, For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known [1co 13:12].
The Order of the Centurions looks to follow Christ as closely as possible as the saints of the early centuries did. We look to Words of Jesus, and the Apostles’ teachings and understanding of the Lord, as our guide. We declare our Church to be under the Church Militant - the One Church of the Lord of all living saints.
1 St. Peter ii. 19.
THIS is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
St. John x. 11.
JESUS said, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and know my sheep, and am known of mine, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd.
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