I Peter chapter 5 concludes the book with Peter addressing the Elders and the flock and then his final greetings. Up until this point this letter has addressed some major themes: First, the belief in Jesus Christ, what was accomplished by his death and resurrection, and his ascension, and second, Peter wants his readers to live in a way that reflects their understanding of who they are because of what Jesus has accomplished.
The first section of chapter 5 addresses the elders and the flock. We are again reminded of the analogy of God’s people as sheep and the elders the shepherds leading the sheep in God’s purpose. Verse 2a states “ be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them- not because you must but because you are willing, as God wants you to be” This verse spoke to me on many levels as a mother and as the preschool director.
In my professional career, I was a middle school theatre teacher and when the importance of being a mother to my son called me out of teaching, I was at a loss of what to do with my teaching talents. And as we know God always has a plan! As I was finishing up my last school year in 2022, God blessed me with the opportunity to serve here at Heritage as the preschool director. When I was teaching middle school, I didn’t make the biblical connection of my students as my flock, of course I knew I was the leader, protector, “role model”, “life long learner”: you can insert any buzz word here for my position. Talking to you fellow teachers! But it seems so apparent now that my students in any setting are a flock. Now I wouldn't consider myself an elder for our church, but I believe I am the shepherd of my preschool department and am so glad that I entered into this position “not because I must but because I am willing” like it says in verse 2.
Peter continues to reaffirm the church in “humbling ourselves” and “casting our anxiety on Him, on God.” I personally like the NKJV that says “cast all your care upon him”, which reminds me of a great song called “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour. If you need a pick me up song, definitely check it out!
He then warns of the devil prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, encouraging us to as it says in Verse 8 “Be alert and of sober mind.” Verse 9 “Stand firm in the faith” and verse 11 “ to Him, God, be the power for ever and ever. Amen”
Peter concludes this letter with his final greetings by telling the church/christian community in “Babylon”, some believe this is a veiled reference to Rome, to “testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” He also instructs that they greet with a kiss of love and peace to all who are in Christ. I love the fact that what Satan made a symbol of betrayal, Judas’s kiss, God made into the everyday greeting of his people. A complete 180 degrees for it to be a sign of love and peace.
To conclude, the first section of chapter 5, Peter is specifically talking to the elders of the church in these verses, but what I want you to think about is what is your flock in your life. Are you the leader of your family unit, the manager of your workplace? We all have some responsibility over people in some capacity, so think about identifying your “ shepherd role” and are you doing it “because you must or because you are willing, as God wants you to be”?