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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The Good Shepherd | Purpose

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

PSALM 23:5

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

LUKE 4:18–19


 

In six weeks, many of us will feast with loved ones at Christmas. Tables will be full, food will be plenty. For me, the best feasts are the ones I don’t have to prepare or wash up for afterwards! That may be wishful thinking, but it doesn’t seem so wishful for David’s view of God.

God not only provides abundant nourishment when we’re with friends, but even when we’re surrounded by enemies. He’s not ashamed of us or the struggles we’ve come through. No matter how dark the journey has been, however broken, confused, doubtful, or shameful we might feel, God has prepare an undeserved feast for us. We’re treated as his guest of honour. And he wants everyone to know!

He hasn’t hidden his table in a cave, but positioned it out where everyone can witness his pleasure over us. This is a great reminder for when we anxiously wolf down lunch before important meetings. Or when hurriedly preparing breakfast before a hectic day. The Lord is present in our pressures. This feast is described as a present reality, not just something that comes after death. He’s not just presently tolerating us in perpetual disappointment, but he anoints us as his prized possession. We too can know his ‘anointing’ in our everyday lives.

Anointing has several meanings in the Bible, but often refers to God’s Spirit setting people aside in service of others. David’s anointing (with literal oil) symbolised that he was set aside as king to serve Israel. As Jesus’ disciples, our anointing now extends in service of the whole world. We each carry God’s anointing to serve our frontlines – the everyday places where we’re among those who don’t follow Jesus.

This was Jesus’ mission on earth: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news…’. We too are called to walk in his anointing, proclaiming his freedom and favour wherever we are. Ministering love, seeking justice, healing hurts, and meeting needs.

By following Jesus we’re anointed with his Spirit and purpose. So whether you find yourself among enemies or friends, hostility or hospitality, boring or fun work, the cup of God’s blessing never runs dry. In fact, all who come to Jesus will never thirst.

‘Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”’ (John 6:35).

Adnan Khan
LICC Church Associate and Associate Pastor & Discipleship Lead, Christ Church London

What purpose might your Good Shepherd have for your frontline this week? Are there particular pressures that you can minister peace to in your workplace, family, or church community? Join the conversation below.

Listen:

As you reflect on God’s purpose for your frontline, why not listen to this song? May we be nourished by the goodness and faithfulness of his presence in our week.

Comments

  1. Do a random act of kindness. This task is broad. There are a million and one possibilities of things for me to do! The point is just for me to keep my eyes open as I go about this week, knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life: Leave a kind note on my receipt with the tip for my server and a copy of the Rhapsody of Realities Devotional. Text “I was thinking about you this morning. How are you doing?” to someone I haven’t talked to in a while. Let someone go ahead of me in line. Tell a tired-looking mom she’s doing a great job. These are just a few ideas, but the sky’s the limit! I will simply go out and be kind this week!

    By Rose Lum  -  20 Nov 2023

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