Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In our Gospel reading for this week, from John 10:1-10, Jesus introduces him as “the door of the sheep” (v. 7, ESV). He is both the door and the doorkeeper. Who is able to enter and call out sheep? What kind of shepherd does he allow? This passage is often used to defend the idea of ordination or other tests of doctrinal purity and adequate training to care for a congregation. The leadership of the Church needs to be as well equipped as possible. Caring for Christ’s people is difficult. It is a matter of taking the Scripture and applying it to the troubles of life in our fallen world. This is no trivial matter.
Sadly, in some sectors of Christianity, it is much too easy for a person to become a pastor. Really you only need a positive personality, a website, and a few people you can gather around yourself. The many independent churches in the Western world today are frightening. They normally have vague doctrinal statements. Often there is no organizational structure for accountability. There are frequently no training credentials required. It’s frankly easier to become the pastor of an independent church plant than to get a job as a worker in a day care facility. This should not be. That’s the behavior of the thieves who climb over the wall of the sheep pen to harm or steal the sheep.
Also sadly, there are some sectors of Christianity which make it extremely difficult for a person to become a pastor. The demands may at times be so extreme and exacting that it is impossible for a pastor who does not express each doctrine in precisely “the right” terms to find himself serving a congregation.
By God’s grace, there are many educational institutions and church bodies which have sufficient agreement in doctrine, training, and polity that theological students can receive training which is faithful to Scripture. There will be some differences between one church body and another, but as the student explores and explains more clearly it becomes very easy to make the distinctions and say, for example, why one is a Lutheran and not a Presbyterian or a Baptist.
What confidence do we find here? We find the confidence that Jesus is guarding his sheep. He is going to protect his people from all harm. As we are accountable to one another and sensitive to the way Christ has spoken in Scripture, we can be confident that the Lord will walk with his people through all the trials they have in this world, preparing them for eternity.
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