Matthew 18:12-14: 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Often the hardest work a Christian congregation has to do is looking for the people in the congregation who have wandered away from the flock. Lost sheep love to hide. That’s what people with a guilty conscience do. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, they love to hide. The ministry of searching for the lost has become even more difficult today because people have caller I.D. on their phones and will not answer when the pastor or someone from the church is calling them. It can be frustrating work and it is easy to lose heart and give up the search. But God doesn’t want us to give up. Jesus teaches us that it makes our Father in heaven happier when one of the lost are found than when the ninety-nine faithful sheep have not wandered off.
It’s important in our congregations what we do not expect the pastor to be the only one doing this work. Every congregation has more than one lost sheep. It often takes many visits to one of those sheep to restore them to the flock. Sometimes it takes years and years. If there are twenty wandering sheep in your congregation, that’s way too many for one pastor to be searching for. Looking for the lost should be something that every member of the congregation is doing. Imagine that you were one of those lost sheep. Which would be more effective, the pastor visiting you twice a year or several members visiting you every month?
Your visits to the lost sheep send a powerful message. It tells them that our Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are our the Good Shepherd, and you use us to look for your lost sheep. Some of those lost sheep are our brothers and sisters in our congregations. Give me a heart for the lost so that your will is carried out among us as we desire that not one of these little ones are lost to your kingdom. Amen.