Modern technology can be both a blessing and a curse. If you are reading this article you are probably already very familiar with the many of the benefits and disadvantages that come with technology.
One thing I have come to appreciate is the usefulness of having a Bible app on my phone. Sometimes I do my daily reading from the app and what I have learned to like about it is that it slows down my reading. Instead of having a printed Bible open and perhaps 60 verses before my eyes the app shows me five to six verses at a time.
As I read I've noticed that with the app I ponder the verses, the phrases, the words, more than when I read from print. Things seem to catch my attention that I might have easily overlooked reading in a different manner. That happened this morning as I read from Proverbs 27.
Proverbs 27:23 says,
"Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds"
I spent some time thinking about that verse while I was reading and I've come back to it several times today. The idea of being a pastor is one of caring for a flock. I am charged with keeping watch over a congregation. It is my responsibility to guide them safely, keeping an eye out for any who may wander off, leading them back before they get into danger.
Complicating the job, at least in relation to the idea of being a shepherd, is that I don't have all the sheep nearby all the time. I see many, but never all, of my flock on Sunday morning and only a few of them during the week, and those at mostly random and unpredictable intervals. I can give attention to them only when I see them, and only when they are open about what they are dealing with in their lives. And so I care for the flock as best I can on Sunday morning, and seek to be aware of the opportunities God might present me with during the remainder of the week.
While I've considered these words from my role was a pastor I think they have a wider application, particularly as mature Christians relate to Christians who have newer faith. Which brings me back to modern technology.
There is so much Christian material available online that it boggles the imagination. Books, videos, podcasts, you name it, and often free. Search, click and dive in.
Much of it is good, but so much of it is bad. The bad ranges from just being weak and barely appealing, like cold coffee, to things that are toxic for one's faith. As the shepherd grows in skill and the mature Christian grows in faith it is their responsibility to keep an eye on the flock, on the new Christian, and lead them to good water when you see them drinking from something that looks safe but is really poison.
If you are a new Christian reading this find yourself a friend of Christian maturity, who can help you along the way.
And if you are a more mature Christian, or someone in the role of a shepherd, keep an eye on the flock, but also keep a measure of humility over your own life, knowing that there will be days when you yourself will need a shepherd. Watch over others but also seek to have someone who is keeping an eye on you.
And in all things may all Christians seek to live closely to the Lord Jesus, whom the author of Hebrews reminds us is "the great shepherd of the sheep." Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.