May 16, 2008

The sheepfold or the thicket?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 4:57 pm

“What man among you…does not leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NASB)

This week the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 has captivated my attention. I’m asking myself this question, “Do I spend too much time in the sheepfold?” Is this possible? Is it possible for a Christian to spend too much time in the sheepfold rather than going out to look for the lost sheep? I think this is a possibility, and one I don’t want to fall prey to in my Christian walk.

What is the “sheepfold?” I don’t know for sure, but I suggest it could be equivalent to our churches and other places where we as Christians feel safe and comfortable…and the place where for many of us the world is nowhere to be seen. It is so easy for us to “hold on” and huddle together with those of like faith…this sounds like the sheepfold…the place where the ninety-nine sheep were in this parable. If the sheepfold does represent churches, think about how much time, money, and energy is invested in maintaining the sheepfold. How much do we invest in the lost? Is seeking the lost left only to the missionaries in our world? I don’t think so!

I looked at this parable in my Life Application Study Bible and found these comments:

“Jesus came to show sinners that God loves them. Jesus didn’t worry about the accusations. Instead he continued going to those who needed Him, regardless of the effect these rejected people might have on his reputation. What keeps you away from people who need Christ?”

“Jesus took the concept of the Pharisees’ cleanness lightly. He risked defilement by touching those who had leprosy and neglecting to wash in the Pharisees’ prescribed manner, and he showed complete disregard for their sanctions against associating with certain classes of people.”

“Jesus associated with sinners because he wanted to bring the lost sheep – people considered beyond hope – the gospel of God’s Kingdom.”

We live in a world where many hurting people need someone to come into their lives and love them with love as Christ loved the sinners He associated with. Are you willing to risk criticism to associate with those in your world who truly need the gospel of Jesus Christ? Maybe there are Christians who need to grow in their relationship with Christ, maybe those who God wants you to show His love to. Are you willing to “leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one which is lost?” Ask God to lead you to where the one lost sheep is caught and needing to be rescued.

Jesus tells us in Luke 15:7, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (NASB). I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of the “more joy” that Jesus talked about in this verse. I want to be willing to get out of the sheepfold and reach out to others.


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