But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; (Matthew 23:8-11 RSVA)
I have never seen myself as a shepherd or one who mentors others, at least since I went through so much stripping at the hand of God in the ’80’s and ’90’s. I am just “a beggar who shows other beggars where I found some bread.” Jesus IS that Bread. Christ is our sufficiency in all things pertaining to life and godliness. What our Father is looking for and working toward in us is many sons unto HIS glory, not their own. Jesus is the first born of many sons (and daughters) of God and as such HE is our Pattern Son. He came to the earth and did not take on the form of God or even an archangel, but rather took on the form of a man, a lowly man, a servant to all men, not a chief priest or a king. This is as our Pattern who said of Himself, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
As the above picture indicates, what a contrast Jesus was to the religious leaders of the Jews! They were men who loved titles and to be seen as set apart from mere men with their “holier than thou” mindsets. But Jesus was down in the trenches with sinful mankind and they loved Him for it! When Jesus said, “Those who come before me are thieves and robbers,” the translators wrongly translated it to say, “Those who ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” There is a BIG difference! All those spoken of in the Old Covenant from Enoch to John the Baptist who walked by faith in the Father were NOT thieves and robbers as some dare to teach! No, those who get between Jesus and HIS sheep (before – positionally) are the thieves and robbers; false shepherds, false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, etc. What makes them false? They are “ravenous wolves not sparing His flock and teachers teaching perverse things to draw away DISCIPLES AFTER THEMSELVES” (see Acts 20: 29-31), and like Diotrephes in the third epistle of John, these are those who love the preeminence, instead of allowing Christ to have all preeminence in the lives of His saints.
As for being “used” by the Lord, I think that there is way too much emphasis among Christians on “being used.” Satan possess and uses people. Jesus loves and leads them as THE Good Shepherd. Many years ago in the beginning of my walk God when I was “busy for God,” He started talking to me about entering into His rest and in Hebrews chapter four we read, “they who have entered into His rest have ceased from their own labors.” Being too anxious about being used has led to many a dead work in the eyes of the Lord. It is noteworthy to notice that God’s works were finished from the foundation of the world. So as we rest IN HIM we also rest in His FINISHED works. Jesus hung on the cross and said, “It is finished!” just before He died. He also said that HE would build His called out ones (ecclesia – translated “church”). Yet, churches are all about “doing great things for God” and oh, how they love to build. Only as we rest in HIS finished works as we rest IN HIM, can He work the works of His righteousness in and through us. This is why Paul was so emphatic that we walk by faith and NOT by works.
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
It is only as we rest IN Christ and His righteousness by faith that we will find ourselves doing the finished works of the Father. Like Jesus said to the disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 RSVA – emphasis added). I have found that those who rest in this fact drive the practitioners of religion crazy. These builders of churches and church organizations are the same builders who reject Christ as the Chief Cornerstone, Cap Stone and Master Builder of the temple which is the Father’s design for His temple is made of living stones (see Matt. 21:42-43 and 1 Peter 2:5-9) not wood, bricks and mortar.
So we find ourselves going through all these painful experiences as we struggle to be free of this world and its worldly churches with their mindsets and be bound to Christ as our ALL in all. This is so true to form in the way HE teaches. Paul wrote, “… but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience…” God puts a high value on experiential learning and trials (tribulations) are a step in the process of our training, like it or not. Paul goes on to say, “And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us” (Romans 5:4-5 KJ2000). Again, we are back to being conformed into the image of His Son who learned obedience through the things which He suffered and His suffering was a result of His obedience to the Father. Should we not expect the same?
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire [in Christ], lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 KJ2000)