Acts 19:21-20:38, Psalm 36
Paul prepares the Ephesian elders for his departure by reminding them to imitate his leadership and warns them to beware of dangerous infiltrators that will seek to undermine the work of the Holy Spirit. In Paul’s moving address, there is one line that I think all leaders in the church, especially elders, do well to memorize and embrace. Paul tells the overseers there, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28) The connection is simple to understand. Jesus owns those He purchased. As Jesus rules over all that are His, our Lord chooses some to lead as undershepherds. Elders are called, then, to take care of those Jesus entrusts into their care. What I want us to remember isn’t simply Jesus’ ownership of all believers. Rather, I desire us to remember the incredible value Paul places on the work of caring for Jesus’ sheep by pointing out how all believers are purchased. Our Lord suffered the inhumanity, ridicule and death of cross so that we can be saved. These few words mean everything for Paul as he places incredible value on our protection in Christ. Protection is about staying true to the Lord more than anything else, for that is eternal protection. That is the point Paul is making to those elders. Jesus paid such a high cost. That should transform the way we relate to all in the family of Jesus. No matter how little you respect someone, or how irritable you find them, Jesus bled, and more, bled on a cross that they be with Him forever. The gravity, the weight of every brother or sister in Christ could not be greater. How, then, would you live differently if you saw every person in your local church as someone purchased by the blood of Jesus? Take a moment to consider and respond, even in writing. However you answered, if you believe our Gospel, then walk in faith this week by treating your family in Christ as if they are worth more than money can buy. For the Gospel declares they are worth more than silver or gold.