The Bishop of our Souls
Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25)
Sheep are not the brightest of beasts, and are prone to wander. Any small hole in a hedge poses a challenge, any gap is a call to escape. The thing with sheep is that they thoroughly enjoy wandering off, as if they were browsing the hedges for bargains.
And such were we, but now the great shepherd of our souls has rounded us up and brought us to rich pastures. Now we graze under his protective eye. Yet this shepherd is more than simply an external guide, he is also the “overseer of your souls”. He it is who, though our consciences, prods us onto the right paths.
In yet another purple passage, Watson invokes the image of a bishop, since the word “overseer” might also be translated bishop. We must be careful to listen to this overseer, and not to allow another to usurp his place. The voice of God is the voice of the shepherd, bringing all to safety.
Conscience is God's diocese, where none has right to visit—but He who is the Bishop of our souls (1 Pet. 2:25). We must not be like hot iron, which may be beaten into any form. A brave spirited Christian will rather suffer, than let his conscience be violated. Here is the serpent and the dove united—sagacity and innocence. This prudential walking corresponds with our high calling, and much adorns the gospel of Christ.