The cry of every pastor and shepherd
For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord, For ye are our glory and joy
What is life?
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:8
Nov 3/16 2009 24th Monday after Pentecost
St Paul is the quintessential pastor and shepherd . As a priest, I am inspired and humbled by his zeal. Any true pastor (and I boldly proclaim that I am a true pastor, even though very limited by my sinfulness, but the Lord knows that I care and try to be a good pastor) feels a great “resonance” in his soul when reading the Apostle’s many exhortations and emotional proclamations to his flock.
I cannot be the pastor and shepherd the Apostle was, but I do understand how he feels about his flock. His words to the Thessalonians are my words too:
For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. (1 Thess 3:8)
This means that the pastor loves his flock, and the joys of his flock are his joys, and the sorrows his sorrows. When a person has a fall, or some difficulty, he feels it deeply, as if it was his own fall or difficulty. By “now we live” the Apostle is saying for all pastors that our greatest joy is to see those in our flock “stand fast in the Lord”. This motivation is why we are pastors.
As in all Scripture, the meaning is even deeper than mere words can convey. Our nature loves to be alive, and covets those feelings that make us feel the most alive. For some, this feeling is accomplished the most when encountering danger (the “adrenaline junkie”) or when viewing the beauty of nature, or, lamentably, when indulging in some useless and pernicious pleasure of the flesh. The more refined among us, those closer to perfection, feel the most satisfaction in life when they are helping someone, but even this does not capture the Apostle’s meaning
The perfect identify so closely with those among them and consider their life so intertwined with their loved ones that they do not consider themselves to be alive unless their loved ones are alive. The only true life is to be in Christ. He is the resurrection and the life , and anything outside of Him is death. The perfect Christian feels this death so totally that when those he loves are “living as dead”, he laments their lot with bitter tears, and feels it as if it his own, and much more than this, marshals every bit of his energy to help them.
I am not there yet, but I want to be there.
The difference between a sinful pastor such as myself and the Apostle is that sometimes the sorrows of caring for the flock and the concerns of a pastor are overwhelming. I am convinced that this is because of moral failings. Everything is easier and we are more powerful with holiness! If I was holy, I would be sad about sad situation regarding my flock, but this sadness would spur me to pray as the Apostle did (just look at most of his epistles to see how he prayed!) and not engender feelings of spiritual exhaustion.
So today, I have a proclamation and a confession. You my flock, are
“my glory and joy”, and I live, “if ye stand fast in the Lord”.
And also, I am a truth teller and a liar  when I make this proclamation, although the Lord knows that my heart does not lie, even as I prove myself a liar because I am incapable in every instance of living up to these words.
Therefore, like the Apostle has often done in his letters, I exhort your prayers also. I need them much more than he needed them. Pray for your pastors, those men with feet of clay who speak of angelic things. Pray for those sinners who have made it their life’s work to teach others to not sin.
Epistle reading for this day:
1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:8 20 For ye are our glory and joy. 1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. 6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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 More properly, the quintessential MORTAL pastor, since the pastor of pastors and shepherd of shepherds is our Lord and Savior, the God-man, Jesus Christ.
 John 11:25 “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
 Psa 116:11 I said in my haste, All men are liars.