Do you know Jesus’ parable of the ‘Lost sheep’? The Shepherd who has 99 sheep in the fold, but goes and finds the one lost sheep and comes home rejoicing. This parable holds a powerful picture of how one person matters to God. This is the kind of picture Jesus paints for us of God. God doesn’t see a crowd, he sees every person. He knows them by name. He knows what they need. He responds to our concerns. In the Heart and Mind of God, Jesus tells us no one is missed.
This is a powerful picture to draw us into the kind of church we are called to be. A place where people are known by name, a community where no one is missed. But imagine if this falls to the responsibility of a few. A youth pastor I knew was overwhelmed by this burden. He was a deeply caring person and wanted every young person to know they mattered. While he assigned young people to other leaders to care, he followed up 80 young people himself. He knew them by name, what life was like for them. Over time, caring for 80 was too much for him. What do you think? Is this best the way to put our hope for loving community into practice? Expect a few to put love for others into practice? How could we do better?
John writes in 1 John 4:11-12 (NIV)
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.
When we see love for others put into practice in Christian community, we know God is at work. When we put it into practice, we know God ‘lives in us’ and is changing our lives for the better. While love is native to Christianity, it is not necessarily natural. It requires choice, and takes effort. John wrote these words because Christians were struggling to love. Paul wrote beautiful words on love in 1 Cor 13, for similar reasons. Our church life is characterised by many acts of generosity and love. We thank God how the love of Jesus is shown in us. But let us not rest here, in the words of Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
What comes to mind for you?