The Lost Sheep | A talk by Anne Chittick

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Espace spirituel anglophone

dimanche 28 juin à 8h45

Durée émission : 10 min

Espace spirituel anglophone

A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and His care for us as His sheep.

. Another aspect of His concern as Good Shepherd has struck me recently, and that is His love for the lost sheep.

Jesus tells the parable of the shepherd who left the flock of 99 sheep and went out to search for the hundredth one, which was lost. He looked and looked until he found it, and carried it home with joy! Further, He gives us a glimpse into the rejoicing in Heaven over a sinner who repents. No whisper of being given a stiff dressing down before the forgiveness is offered. Rather, an unconditional acceptance and restoration, the whole occasion one of joy. Jesus again shows the heart of Father God in His parable of the Prodigal Son. When the son returns home after squandering his inheritance, broken and contrite, he is freely forgiven, with great celebration.

In His life and ministry, Jesus shows this countless times in His dealings with people. He calls Levi the tax collector as one of His disciples. He singles out Zacchaeus from a crowd, also a tax collector, offering him acceptance and forgiveness, discerning his hunger for both. Tax collectors were not generally loved as they habitually lined their own pockets as well as collecting taxes on behalf of an oppressive government. Jesus rescues the woman caught in adultery, and we could add numerous other examples from the Gospels.
The Pharisees and religious people of Jesus’ day were shocked and horrified. Failing to see their own need for forgiveness, they missed out on receiving it for themselves and on partaking in God’s love as well. They also couldn’t share in the joy of seeing someone cleansed from sin and added to the family of God. Further, they were blinded to seeing the fulfilment of the Scriptures before their eyes, the long-promised Messiah. How tragic is that! Sadly, they had become so convinced of their own righteousness and respectability that they could no longer recognise God at work.

The idea of God as being loving was not new. In Hosea 11 verses 1-4, the prophet says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realise it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.”
There is a modern worship song by Cary Asbury, called “Reckless Love” that catches something of Father God’s relentless pursuit of the lost. The chorus is:

“O, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God.
O, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away.
O the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God.”

Following on from thinking for a while about Father God’s heart for the lost sheep, it reminds me that He wants us to have the same heart, in fact to see them with His eyes of love. Who are the lost sheep around me, around you, that He wants us to reach? We can ask Father God to show them to us and then ask Him to show us how to carry Jesus’ love and hope to them. It could start with a smile or with an act of kindness. With all the fear, suffering and uncertainty of this time, many are searching for answers, seeking for life and truth. As it says in 1 Peter 3;15, “Always be prepared to give and answer for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Jesus is still looking for the lost sheep and will sometimes use us to reach them. Be alert. Don’t miss out on the joy of seeing someone forgiven and restored to the flock, secure and safe in the great Shepherd’s arms.

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