A number of years ago I was the guest speaker at a church where the predominant spoken language for the Sunday morning service was Spanish. My words were translated from English to Spanish by the pastor of the congregation. He was warm, friendly, and so generous with his time as well as his open heart. I could not understand all that was being said after the service was over but it was clear to me from the huge smiles, happy tones of voice, expressions of affection being exchanged, these people loved their pastor and he loved them. I had a wonderful time and left with great respect and admiration for this pastor and for the people there. I also left wondering what the name of the church meant for it was Primera Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor.
I knew enough Spanish to know “el buen” means “the good” but I thought the name of the church could not mean the church of the good pastor even though I thought this pastor was really a good pastor. (Several conversations with him over ensuing years confirmed this in my mind.) It was a few weeks later I learned pastor in Spanish can mean shepherd. I smiled that I was privileged to have spoken at the First Baptist Church of the Good Shepherd. Such a fine name for a church as Jesus had said, I am “the good shepherd.” And as Pastor Ed explained in the fifth segment of the Profound sermon series, Jesus is the ultimate good shepherd to His flock.
Jay Vernon McGee once spoke about the role of pastors in God’s church throughout the world. He said there was only one shepherd for the church and that one shepherd was Jesus Christ. There are no other shepherds for the church and those who claim to be shepherds in the church are mistaken. He said of himself that he was not a shepherd but more like the sheep dog doing the bidding of the shepherd. I miss listening to Dr. McGee who is also in the presence of Jesus.
It is crucial that we know and recognize the voice of the shepherd much like the sheep back in the days of the early church. There are many who are “pretenders” and can lead us astray unless we know what is real – what is the truth. A great way to recognize the voice of the shepherd is to read the Bible and know it intimately. One does not need to be a Biblical scholar or have gone to seminary to read His Word. Surely there are interesting matters that come from the historical context, grammatical nuances and language idioms but the plain words, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and then acted upon by the reader is better than a degree in theology without life transformation. There are many ways to “get into” God’s Word but there is no substitute for personal interaction with His Word. If you want to recognize Jesus’ voice, then get into His Word. Jesus said I am the good shepherd. The sheep hear my voice and recognize me.