The Shepherd of Hermas: Vacuous

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See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

“After he spoke these things to me, he said, “Let us go into the country, and I will show you the shepherds of the sheep.” “Yes, Lord,” I said, “let us go.” We came to a certain plain and he showed me a young shepherd, wearing a bright yellow suit of clothes.

He was tending a large flock of sheep. These sheep were luxuriously fed and extremely frisky and cheerful, leaping about here and there; and the shepherd also was cheerful with his flock. The shepherd’s appearance was very cheerful, and he was running about among the sheep.

He said to me, “Do you see this shepherd?” “I see him, Lord,” I replied. “This,” he said, “is the angel of luxury and deceit. He, then, is the one who wears down the souls of the vacuous slaves of God and turns them away from the truth, deceiving them with evil desires that destroy them.

For they forget the commandments of the living God and proceed in vain deceits and luxuries and are destroyed by this angel — some to death and others to ruin.”

The Shepherd of Hermas 61.5-62.2, Parable VI.1-2 (c. A.D. 70-140) as reported by Bart Ehrman in Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into The New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) 276-277.

As I continue reading the Shepherd of Hermas in my morning and evening reading while on my GTP retreat with new staff I am struck by their depth and character. It’s the opposite of vacuous and empty.

They are not led astray by the luxury and deceit though many people are.

Sadly, these people follow shepherds in flashy suits and, as a result, have become empty people who have been turned away from Christ. They listen more to political voices and popular thinkers than Christ.

Jesus, Paul, and others warned us it would happen. The key is not to let it happen to you.

Don’t look for earthly voices to promise you things here on earth. Their lips are filled with deceit and the luxury is fleeting and short-lived. Focus on eternity.

Use your wealth for a purpose while living. Don’t let deceit and luxury fool you. Focus on the commandments of God.