Who, or what, should we be like? In a study group recently, this question was posed. Someone said we should be like Jesus, after all the word ‘Christian’ means ‘little Christ’. We should strive to emulate his humility, love and compassion. Someone else said that we should be ourselves more. God does not call us to be like Moses or Elijah or Paul but rather we are called to be the person that God intended us to be. A third person said that we should be more in relationship with God. If we love Jesus and grow in our relationship with Jesus, then all these character traits will automatically spill out into our lives. Who is right? Are they all right? In the Bible readings this week we get another insight into what we should be like. In the book of Acts, we read about the importance of community. All the believers worshiped together, prayed together, ate together and shared everything that they had. As a result of this, they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people around them. Of course with the present lock-down we cannot do this in a physical sense but we should not stop phoning, emailing, texting and zooming. We can still build community – a virtual community. But there is more. The reason they were together was because they were focused on one leader, one guide, one teacher. They followed Jesus’ teaching, from the Apostles, in everything they did. It was this Guide that looked after them.
A common analogy used throughout the Bible for the care that God gives to His community is shepherd. God is that shepherd. The most famous of all the psalms starts with the words, ‘the Lord is my Shepherd.’ In the Gospels, Jesus elaborates on this concept. He describes Himself as the one who really looks after the sheep and even lays down his life for them – nobody else will do this. In the Epistle reading, the Apostle Peter further notes that this Good Shepherd is the Guardian of our souls. Christians in North Africa (and elsewhere) who come from Muslim families face two significant challenges at the present time. The observation of Ramadan and the corona virus lock-down means that they are isolated and quite probably persecuted. More than anything they need to be in community. They need support in setting up some form of virtual community. They also need our continued prayer at this time.
Who, or what, should we be like? The answer is multi-fold, but a good starting point is to be in community, virtual if not physical. To acknowledge that we are all united under the common love of the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for us, His sheep.
New Testament reading for this week: Acts 2:42-7
Gospel reading for this week: John 10:1-10
Epistle reading for this week: 1 Peter 2:19-25
Psalm for this week: 23