Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Lost Sheep

My dear readers,

Thank you for kind words and insightful comments on previous posts. I do read and take to heart every one of them, praying that I will grow in wisdom and knowledge through your experiences in the Lord.

Let's consider our responsibility to others. In Luke 15, Jesus was speaking in parables, as was his custom. The least among the community came to listen to Jesus. (I personally believe it was because he gave them hope. )The religious leaders were appalled that Jesus would associate with those of such low socio-economic status. These were considered the dregs of society: unkempt, unlearned, and straying away from what the religious leaders required. They wanted more than the Law. They wanted a relationship!

Within our churches we have so many who are marginalized and who hurt deeply. They may not have the best clothing or hygiene. They may not follow the same rules. Yet they are starving for love and compassion, in deep emotional pain. They sit in the back of our churches completely ignored by the minsters and congregation, no one reaching out to touch them where they are. Of that, we should be convicted! We can never know what's in a person's heart! Let me tell you of a recent event that made this very real to me.

As many know, my precious partner returned after a 15 month tour of duty in Iraq. She has suffered greatly with post-traumatic stress disorder. Several months ago she asked to speak with the pastor of the church we were attending. Now, you must understand that this church falls under the category of extreme fundamentalism. They are subscribers to the religion of prosperity and deliverance. According to their theology, if you have difficulties in your life then you are in sin, basically, and must have a demon or something similar which requires deliverance...their style. And there are so many churches out there who follow that theology. In my opinon, in light of the teaching and life of Jesus, it is very condemning and lacking in love and compassion. After that conversation, the pastor pushed her aside. It was devastating to my partner. For months she kept the hurt of that deployment inside because of the negative and hurtful reaction of that pastor.*

While attending a special event at another church, she had the opportunity to speak to the minister who will be, in a short few months, installed as the leader of their entire denomination. Although this woman is busy and very important, she took the time to care for my partner and reach out to her. I cannot begin to tell you how much healing was done in such a short time.

All of this made me think of the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus said, "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep but loses one of them? Then he will leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the open field and go out and look for the lost sheep until it finds it. And when he finds it, he happily puts it on his shoulders and goes home."

We think this is a parable for the lost; those who don't know Jesus. Think about it in a different way. He was tending the sheep; those who know his voice. These were his sheep. If one who knows him slips away, it is our obligation as ministers of the gospel to gently retrieve that sheep, put that one on our shoulders and carry them back to the sheepfold. The word for sheep used here means to go forward or advance. As his sheep, we should be moving forward or advancing...maturing in our faith walk. That leads to even bigger implications. We are to encourage one another in our faith walk. Also notice that the shepherd carried the sheep home. He didn't leave it to chance, but took the weary and confused sheep in his arms and gave the sheep comfort on the journey.

In the way that this minister took my partner's hands in hers and cared for her, so should we care for one another. It's an easy, fleshly thing to look down on another, condemning them and castigating them for their weakness or pain. It is the Christ-like thing to open our hearts and our spirits to care for one so hurt and soul-damaged. God bless this woman for offering the healing hand of God to my precious partner.

May we all learn a lesson in this. It is imperative and incumbent upon us to go forward and care for the sheep of our sheepfold. Jesus taught us that we are our brother's keeper. If we heap condemnation on each other, we will be nothing more than a fold of wounded, unuseful sheep. Let's put our weapons of words, thoughts and deeds down and open our hearts, minds and spirits to each other, helping each other mature in our faith walk.

May God touch your hearth with this message as He's touched mine. May you be richly blessed and know the love and compassion to which we are called.


* For more infomation on spiritual abuse (using the bible or spiritual principles to chastise another person), please visit . This site is owned by Dr. Rembert Truluck, a very learned man and scholar of the bible as a weapon against another. You will find it quite enlightening!

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