Kenneth Bailey in his book, The Good Shepherd, walks through several major “shepherd” passages of Scripture. He makes the case for seeing the Father and the Son as shepherds rather than vengeful judges.
In Ezekiel 34 there is the condemnation from the prophet on the leaders of Israel. They did not shepherd their people well.
You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. (Ez. 34:4)
When leadership is abused, and they lose sight of being shepherds, the sheep take the loss.
In Israel… and in the Church where leaders are failing to be shepherds… the weak were not strengthened. The sick were not healed. The injured were not bound up The strayed were not brought back. The lost were not sought out. The people were ruled with force and harshness.
Take care of people. Watch for those who may not be able to “keep up” in some way. The house of the Lord is supposed to be different from the world. It could be a “lift yourself up by your own bootstraps” kind of mentality in the world, but the Body of Christ should be different. It is to keep an eye on the margins. It is to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the weakened knees.
The Church shouldn’t be about applauding the strong alone. It should be about having our eyes on the margins to bring people along. Lift up. Not tear down. Heal. Don’t hurt.
I am grateful for a Good Shepherd to who looked to lift me up. He then asks me to do the same for others around me. Why should I respond in a way different from my Shepherd?