Isn’t it interesting how a word can have different meanings and sometimes those different meanings interact?
During a conversation some time ago, I received an apology from an organization’s local supervisor because some paperwork I turned in for reimbursement got ‘lost’ somewhere on a desk. His statement included something like, “Please forgive this oversight (mistake) on our part.”
My first thought was that this was coming from the person who had oversight of the operation. I knew he hadn’t made the mistake himself, but, as the supervisor, he took personal responsibility for it. This little struggle wasn’t a life and death situation for us and we knew we had other resources to survive financially until it was straightened out.
Christians can count on Jesus as the Shepherd and Overseer (one who has supervision) of our souls (1 Peter 2:25; John 10:14-15, 27-30). When we maintain our faith in him, he shields us so that even when we face troubles in life, we can survive (1 Peter 1:3-9). The key to this protection (oversight of our lives) is receiving new birth through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead as we act upon our faith in obedience through baptism and as we continue to live under his Spirit’s supervision seeking forgiveness when we fail (Acts 3:38-39; 6:7; Matthew 3:13-17; Romans 6:3-5; 8:9-17; 1 John 1:5-9).
Although Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare an eternal home for all who remain in his hand throughout their life on earth, he’s provided local congregations for us to have local shepherds to guide us in our spiritual life (John 14:1-3, 15-21; Ephesians 4:11-16; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5; Hebrews 3:12-14; 13:7, 17). While some people are specifically set aside as local shepherds, each Christian has the responsibility to look out for other Christians.
There’s usually someone having oversight in many aspects of our lives (e.g., job, government, home, school, church, etc.) or we have that responsibility for watching over someone else. Still, there’re some areas in which each person must take personal responsibility (oversight).
Jesus will shield us, but it is up to us to remain in the faith. That means doing what he says (listening to his voice) and trying to avoid sin (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; Hebrews 10:25-31). Otherwise, while we cannot be snatched out of Jesus’ hand, we will have jumped out and fallen from our secure position because we turned our back on his commands (Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 3:17-18).
Make no mistake about it; there should be no confusion about Jesus’ teaching on this. Each of us has personal responsibility for our own salvation, but if we yield the oversight to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and live according to his calling (listening to his voice), everything will work out (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:9-14; Romans 8:28).
Have you given Jesus oversight of your life? Is your spiritual life being watched over as you participate in a local congregation of God’s people? Both of those are life and death situations.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org