Daily Reflection — God’s Pastoral Priorities
BY Mark D. Roberts, Laity Lodge Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence
In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
The parable of the lost sheep is most familiar to us in the form it takes in Luke 15:3-7. There the emphasis is upon the lost sheep who is found by the shepherd, just as a lost sinner is found by the Lord and subsequently repents.
But in Matthew, Jesus used a similar story to emphasize God’s care for those who are followers in Jesus (these little ones). Even if they should wander away into false doctrine or sin, God does not give up on them. Rather, the Heavenly Father, as a good pastor (which meant “shepherd” originally), seeks those who have gone astray and rejoices when they are brought back into the fold.
As a pastor (meaning ordained minister), I have felt the pain of brothers and sisters leaving the flock. Some have given up on their faith; others have given in to a life of sin. Yet this passage has encouraged me never to give up on those who have wandered away. One of my greatest joys as a pastor has been to see some of these folks restored in faith and fellowship.
Having a heart for brothers and sisters who have wandered off isn’t delegated simply to human pastors, however. All of us need to have the compassion of God for those who have gone astray. Through our acts of love and our prayers, we will reach out to them in the hope of their eventual return to the Lord and his flock.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you have a pastor’s heart, indeed, the Pastor’s heart, for those who have wandered away from him? Are you praying regularly for some of these folks? How are you extending the love of Christ to them?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I’m reminded to pray for those who once were close to you and your people, but have since wandered off. Some were seduced by the temptations of this world. Others found their faith battered by rampant secularism and relativism. Others simply paid so little attention to you that, over time, their hearts turned elsewhere.
So today I’m praying for lost brothers and sisters: for those who are stuck in sin; for those who have been discouraged by the recent fanfare surrounding atheism; for teenage and young adult children of my friends who lost touch with you; and for so many others. Reach out to them, Lord, by your grace. Use me where I can be helpful. Use your people as your copastors, so that the lost might be found and brought home to you. Amen.