(Kudos to my brother, Clark Sims, for stimulating these thoughts with his lesson Sunday.)
There’s no mistake in the title. I want to talk about the prodigal sheep. He’s the brother who finds his way back into God’s service after years of inactivity and without any help or encouragement from the brethren. Like the prodigal son of Luke 15, this wanderer “came to himself” and came home.
Unlike the sheep of Matthew 18 who was sought by his shepherd, no one came looking for him. He just showed back up one day. That’s a good thing, of course, but it is a little scary. What if he didn’t come home? What if he stayed lost? The sheep was sought. The only reason the sheep came home was because someone went looking for him.
Why don’t we look for the lost. Here are 4 reasons we leave the lost, lost.
1. We Think He Knew Better
If a Christian has been around for a while we assume he knows that he should be faithful to the Lord. When he wondered away we figured it was a deliberate act and, since he knew better, he would come home soon enough.
We probably should rethink that.
2. We Think She Needs a Break
Life has a way of ratcheting up the pressure. We all feel a need for a break sometimes. Even Jesus stepped away from the crowds sometimes. Again, we think that she will be back as soon as life settles down a bit.
But what if they don’t?
Maybe we should rethink that.
3. We Think They Are Out of Town
American culture is on the move. We travel a lot. So we often assume that people have taken some spare time to visit parents, see the grandchildren or take a few days of vacation. But when the vacation stretches to the second week we should probably ask around. Most folks don’t leave for weeks without telling someone.
Out of town? Maybe not. We should rethink this one too.
4. They’ll Be Back
Surely no one would leave or drop out! That would be crazy! It’s good to be happy and to think highly of our congregations but sometimes people do leave. A misunderstanding or unintended slight can drive people away. Jesus said to deal with personal issues (Matthew 5:23 ff).
Sure, they might come back…and they might not. Rethink this one.
That lost sheep of Matthew 18 would have died if the shepherd thought like we think sometimes. I’m glad he didn’t, aren’t you?