by Femi Aribisala
Ask the average Christian for his pastor, and he is likely to refer you to mere mortals. But David declares in his most famous psalm: “The LORD is my pastor; I have everything I need.” (Psalm 23:1). If David has everything he needs because he made the Lord his pastor, why do Christians persist in accepting ordinary men as their pastors? Why do we tend to prefer the counterfeit to the original? Why are we inclined to prefer the earthly to the heavenly?
“‘Pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But my people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate,’ says the LORD. For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:10-13).
Like the Israelites of old that preferred a human king to God as their King; Christians today prefer fake human pastors to the King of Glory; “the pastor and overseer of our souls.” (1 Peter 2:25).
I became the pastor of Healing Wings, Chapel of Faith in 1998. But seven years later, I felt constrained to stand before the church to tender my resignation. This caused a bit of a stir initially until people understood I was neither leaving town nor forsaking Christ. My resignation came from the sudden realisation that, even though God called me personally to a healing ministry and gifted me accordingly, he never asked me to pastor a church.
Jesus says to Peter: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:16). However, the sheep remain his: they are not Peter’s. Jesus says: “Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.” (John 10:12-13).
Pastors in the scriptures, (often translated confusingly as shepherds), all stand condemned; with Jesus as the singular exception. Ezekiel declares: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:2). God says: “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray.” (Jeremiah 50:6).
The good pastor
How does God intend to rectify the situation? He proposes the summary dismissal of all pastors to be replaced by one single faithful pastor: “I will establish one pastor over them, and he shall feed them – my servant David. He shall feed them and be their pastor.” (Ezekiel 34:23). “They shall all have one pastor.” (Ezekiel 37:24).
Jesus is that one true pastor foretold by the prophets who has come to save God’s lost sheep. (Matthew 18:11). He declares: “I am the good pastor; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own.” (John 10:14). This immediately disqualifies all other pastors everywhere. Jesus says: “There is none good but one, that is God.” (Matthew 19:17). Jesus is the only pastor that can be said to be intrinsically good; meaning all other so-called pastors are bad.
Not even the pastor of the smallest church can claim to know his congregants, and they do not really know him. He sees them in the pews: they see him on the pulpit. Neither party knows what burdens of sins and sorrows the other is carrying. Pastor Jesus, on the other hand, knows all things. (John 16:30). Indeed, he is “the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by (him).” (John 14:6). Therefore, only Jesus can lead us along the path of life.
Jesus says: “The good pastor gives his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11). This is hardly the job description for today’s highfalutin pastors. Rather than give their lives for their church-members, they require church-members to give their lives for them. They are required to buy them lavish gifts, celebrate their birthdays, and give them money.
Thieves and robbers
Thus, Ezekiel’s says pastors habitually fleece their flock: “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.” (Ezekiel 34:3). Jesus says: “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 10:1-2). “I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” (John 10:8).
This makes the pastors before his coming impostors. What about those after him? They must be thieves and robbers as well because Jesus is the one good pastor for all ages. Only Jesus can be pastor yesterday, today and forever. (Revelation 1:8). Bad pastors die, but the good pastor is our everlasting pastor: “There were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:23-24).
Since all Christians claim to be sheep of the good shepherd, how then can some sheep arrogate themselves as shepherds, thereby usurping the position now reserved exclusively for Jesus? Surely, a man cannot be a shepherd and a sheep simultaneously. Since we are all supposedly striving to inherit the kingdom of God, those still claiming to be pastors must be lost sheep.
Church of God
Jesus says: “It is written in the prophets, ‘They shall all be taught by God.’” (John 6:45). Accordingly, human teachers are unacceptable. Since God has now revealed the good pastor, all other so-called pastors must vamoose. The children of God can only be united if we all have one and the same pastor. In the kingdom of God, there is only one church and only one pastor. Jesus says: “There will be one flock and one pastor.” (John 10:16).
The Lord wants to be our pastor. He wants to be our inspiration. He wants to be our teacher. He wants to show us great and mighty things we do not know. He wants to help us, and strengthen us, and uphold us with his righteous right hand. Therefore he warns: “Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God.” (Matthew 23:9).
The Lord Jesus is our pastor if we put all our trust in him. He is our pastor, if we depend on him for our daily bread. He is our pastor, if we listen to his sermons in our heart of hearts. He is our pastor when we allow him to lead us and guide us.
Therefore, every Christian needs to make a decision as to which church he belongs to and who precisely is his pastor. As for me and my house, we only belong to the Church of God and the Lord our pastor. That Lord is not the lord bishop. That Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ.
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