I’ve always been fascinated by Jesus’ tale about the lost sheep of Israel. Why wouldn’t the shepherd just take his loss and ignore the one sheep that was most likely already devoured by the wolves? Plus, that shepherd may have jeopardized the lives of the other 99 sheep. Some who understood that narrative relate and were likely to have had a similar reaction to mine.
However, there are a few assumptions that need to be addressed. Foremost, if we disregard the lost sheep and continue to lose one sheep at a time, the sheepfold will soon be empty, and it will leave us wondering what happened. Is this something you’ve heard before? Every single person who doesn’t know the Gospel is a source of concern for us. We may feel constrained by what we can do to entice that individual, but we must take action. That’s the enthusiasm for the truth that Jesus desires from all of us.
This brings us to the following point. We’re not looking for that stray sheep, just for some random reason. Rather, we are really seeking to keep that lamb from the perils of the wild, the loneliness of being without the Shepherd, and the world’s deceptive allures and temptations. We also want to communicate the magnificent revelation of Christ Jesus, to whom we are called and through whom He wants everyone to be rescued. In other terms, we search out the lost because it is critical. Life and salvation are on the line.
There’s one more thing to think about. We want that long-lost friend or relative to return to the Gospel because we love and need that person, just as we know God does. That person’s distinctiveness and human dignity are great blessings to our community, and we would be significantly less without him or her. The Church is a call to all to come together, and Jesus requires our bodies and voices to make that happen. We recognize the individual’s freedom as a gift of God, which implies that anyone can truly say “no” to Christ.
These are formidable obstacles for Christians who have not received adequate training in evangelization, or sharing our religion with others. We also don’t want to offend our relatives, friends, or neighbors. We must discover ways to bear testimony to Christ, whether via prayer, good example, or simply loving one another. The best way is to lead by word and deed and not by word alone.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” – James 2:21-24. Scarcely a righteous man will be saved, my brothers and sisters. Let us find all the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
Jonathan Heller – Lift Up A Banner