With the Covid and its many related problems, I find that it is easy to get depressed, dismayed, fearful and worried about my own situation. Too often, I disregard the priceless blessing of eternal salvation I have through Jesus that relegates my worldly problems to relative nothingness. I forget about how many people do not know Jesus and therefore confront the only problematic consequences that really matter. They too are eternal.
An all-important responsibility of being a Christian – that means us – is rescuing those who do not know or who have turned away from God. Jesus likened it to the task of seeking lost sheep. Then he extolled the joy of rescuing them. In Luke 15: 4-6 (NIV) he said, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.”
Tending sheep in a wilderness setting in the times of Jesus and the Old Testament was not an easy job. A shepherd had to be strong and brave. David describes his experience as a shepherd in I Samuel 17:34-35, “When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.”
Rescuing a lost sheep was an especially arduous and dangerous task. Normally, sheep blindly followed their leader along the path. But when a predator came, they could panic, scatter and become lost. Once lost, they had no sense of direction and could helplessly wander deep into the wilderness. They could penetrate into the depths of dense thickets and briars. Their rescuer had to brave the wild beasts and go into the thorny thickets after them. After finally grabbing it, the rescuer had to hoist the struggling animal (weighing 100 pounds or even much more) on his shoulders and head homeward.
In today’s spiritual world, the number and danger of predators are increasing rapidly as is the number of lost sheep. The thickets, thorns and spines of the natural wilderness have been replaced by the barbs, sharp insults, scorn and violent threats in the spiritual wilderness of urban slums, universities, entertainment centers, bars and even luxury resorts towards where the lost sheep now tend to flee. They are prevalent in the red zones not a dozen blocks from where we live, and the rescue can be very dangerous.
The need to save lost sheep is greater than ever and the task of saving them is increasingly formidable. They cannot be rescued by remaining hidden in the sheep pen of church walls. We must have strong faith and know that the Lord is with us. We must be brave, determined, persistent and prepared like David to go out to the midst of the wilderness, fend off the predators and save the sheep before they are devoured. When we seek to serve and achieve our goal, our problems dissipate. We can follow Jesus’ words, call our friends and neighbors together and say, “Rejoice with me; I have found a lost sheep.”
The Union Church of Guatemala
Dr. Ralph Porter
Women's Ministry President
Union Kids Director
AM Worship Coordinator