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The lord is my shepherd (Psa. 23:1) – Part 6


Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

Among the expectations of King David, when he said; The LORD is my Shepherd, are that God will ensure that he lacks nothing needful, keep him from straying or in the pathways of righteousness, protect him from danger, find good pastures for him and feed him, bring him to still waters or place of rest, and keep him healthy. It was a wiser thing, therefore, for David to seek to have the Shepherd rather than seek separately after those things the shepherd naturally will provide. Having the Shepherd means having everything. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus Christ taught us “not to worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:31-33)

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the flocks. He is the Chief Shepherd who has shown us the way to follow both as leaders and as followers. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1Pet. 2:21).

As established already, shepherd speaks of leadership. “Although many other images, like ‘brother’ or ‘fellow-servant’, express the equality of every member of the fellowship, a term like ‘shepherd’ reminds us that even on the human level, some are responsible to lead while others follow, some have authority while others are called to respond to that authority.” We cannot all be leaders at the same time; at different points, levels and times, somebody must be leading and others following. A good understanding of this God-given model of human organisation and disciplined application of the same will make a cordial and responsible body. The Scripture enjoins us to “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor”(Rom. 13:7).

In that decisive conversation between Jesus and Peter, after the resurrection, notice that Jesus refers all three times to ‘my lambs’, ‘my sheep.’ The sheep belong to Jesus, not to Peter. The disciple, even as a shepherd, remains a servant, caring for the property of another. All shepherds, political and religious at whatever levels, must understand that the emphasis is not on the authority of the shepherd, or the leadership of the shepherd, but on the loving care rendered by the shepherd, and on the accountability of the shepherd to the owner of the sheep.
++Nicholas, Abuja
(Culled from THE OPENING ADDRESS by His Grace, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD, DD.; Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Of All Nigeria to The Standing Committee of the Church Of Nigeria held in the Cathedral Church of St Andrew Warri from February 4 to 8, 2019)

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Nicholas Okoh
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