Diet books and weight loss plans abound in the land of plenty. More than half of the population is looking for a quick fix on how to shed a few pounds. In the battle of the bulge, words were never more true than, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Prevention begins with the trip to the grocery store. What mom cooks—fried food or stir fry—clogs the arteries or nourishes a healthy body.
Preachers have been given a similar responsibility—to prepare the meal, not for the body but for the soul. It must be extremely important to our Lord since He repeated the command three times to Pastor Peter, “feed My sheep.” Yet today, the tares gather in the contemporary churches to have a “religious experience” with worldly music to give them a momentary distraction from their problems. But God’s people hunger and thirst for truth. Our Lord still commands today’s pastors to “feed My sheep.” So what exactly do we feed the sheep?
The Master Chef’s Recipe
All God’s preachers will say they need to feed God’s people the Word of God. Yet on occasion you may hear a preacher say, “Please pay close attention to my text, it will be the last time you will hear it today.” This type of message is more likened to loud storytelling than biblical preaching.
The Apostle Paul clearly defined for us in word and example the substance of a healthy diet of a pulpit ministry: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This certainly includes a pulpit ministry of “sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).
Once we get it in our hearts that the sheep are “His sheep” then we can settle the issue of what to feed them. I have a personal preference in how I refer to the members of the church I pastor. I never call them “my people” for one simple reason—they are not “my people,” they are God’s people.
Having pastored in the same church family for twenty-six years, many of the church families and myself go way back. No matter how close the pastor and people become, they are still God’s people, not the pastor’s. The Lord has the right to use this personal pronoun because He purchased His church with His blood (Acts 20:28). If Jesus purchased His people (His sheep) with His own blood, then He has the right to dictate the spiritual diet to feed them.
The menu that the Chief Shepherd has designed is filled with doctrinal meat and potatoes. The “emerging church” has decided to “reinvent” the message of the Gospel. How arrogant to replace what God has written with something less than biblical truth!
God calls His people sheep, and it’s not a compliment. If a sheep full of wool falls over, it often cannot get back on its feet. If a sheep is stuck in a thicket, its life will soon end unless rescued by a shepherd. If a wolf attacks a sheep and is feasting on its kill, the other sheep do not have enough sense to run from the impending danger. (By the way, we who are in ministry are also “His sheep.”) The Lord gave the Word of God preeminence when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). There is no substitute.
Why We Don’t Eat Monkey Brains
A missionary in the Far East was eating with a group of Chinese pastors when he noticed holes in the table. He made the mistake of asking about the holes. They explained that, if you ordered it, monkeys were brought in, strapped under the table, and had their skulls cracked with a hammer. The diners ate raw monkey brains with chopsticks. The missionary didn’t order the monkey.
In Chinese culture, they believe you are what you eat—you literally acquire the characteristics of the animal you eat. You want speed? Eat a rabbit. You want wisdom? Eat an owl. You want agility of movement? Eat a monkey.
We don’t eat monkey brains because we don’t believe it will help prevent arthritis. But if we believe God’s truth, then shouldn’t we also behave God’s truth?
One of the greatest turning points in your life comes when what you believe matches how you live. This is where you find rest in your soul. This is where you discover the peace that passes all understanding. Your life is right with God when you live out Monday through Saturday what you believe on Sunday.
Yes, the time has come when the carnal Christian and the unsaved “will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3). But may a new generation of Spirit-filled preachers stand up and preach the Word with love and the power of God. May we preach the Word with care and compassion. May we preach the Word like Paul—gentle as a nursing mother and strong as a mentoring father (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11).
One of my greatest joys on a Sunday is hearing the testimonies of healthy sheep that are reproducing—stories of how God’s sheep have shared their faith with a friend, relative, or co-worker during the previous week. No undershepherd could have more joy than to hear of God’s children walking in truth and shining their light for Christ. Healthy sheep reproduce. Healthy sheep disciple, give, and love others. Preachers, take them to the green pastures of God’s Word and let them feast on a healthy diet of the Word of God. Then watch Christ come alive in them!