Monday, December 2, 2013

For the shepherds to ponder

The Pharisees and Torah teachers spoke ill of Yeshua when they saw that He fraternised with sinners and tax collectors. They the “upright” did not see in themselves their sins. They also failed to see that just as the sick require physical help so do the spiritually lost. We are all spiritually lost.  Yeshua replied to their grumblings in a parable that we are all familiar with i.e.,  the Parable of the lost sheep.  Essentially He recognised that the mean spirited, the quirky rejects of society, the criminals, the greedy, the PMS sufferers, the tax collectors, the rude, the materialist, the self centred, the lustful (and the list goes on) the prideful, the insecure are ill – spiritually ill.  They are lost. Lost sheep. He healed and is healing the physically sick. He healed and is healing the spiritually sick. To be spiritually sick is worse than being physically sick because if we are not healed, we will spend all of eternity in an awful place. The after life is for all of eternity and the life here is short in comparison. (I wonder that if we really let this sink in, will we not begin to INVEST every second of our time here and every resource that is made available to us here for the betterment of our after life?). So in fraternising with them, He is reaching out to the lost and begins His work of healing .
Our faith is all about obedience. Even if we cannot carry out our walk in faith with love as some are unlovable, we obey first. The command of Yeshua is to “Follow me” . Yeshua lived out the Torah which hangs on 2 commands. 1. Love GOD with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our minds. 2. Love your neighbour as yourself. We are to follow Him. He followed Torah. We follow Him. Some points to note:- 

From His living out the Torah, notice He actively sought out the lost sheep. Actively.   We must all diligently search for the lost and reach out to them. It may be burdensome but the joy of finding the lost sheep and leading him/her back to the right path outweighs the burden.

When we pray, we pray for the blessings to come upon the lost one. How? By removing the sin from him. Will this not be a blessing to him? We are healing his soul.

Instead of being sceptical and critical of the one who is reaching out to the lost, be joyful that someone has not given up on the lost soul.

Do not wait for the undesirable to reach out. We reach out to them first. Get our hands dirty and get personally involved. Seek them out, demonstrate love and compassion. I imagine the unloved, the outcast, the rejects flocking around Yeshua and He just eating with them. Picture a whole bunch of people you know that are the most irritating, weird, hurtful to you, negative in words gathered in one place and you not shunning them. Instead you go all out to reach out to them, sharing a meal with them, making pleasant conversation, showing them love (which may involve teaching firmly  and  sometimes tough discipline) leading them to peace and blessings. Would this not surprise them? This is what Yeshua did. It is not the way of this world. It is the way of a higher being. The lifestyle of a superior being. How else can we even begin to plant the tiniest seed of God’s kingdom in the lost? Do we emulate the superior (Yeshua) or the mediocre (the world)?

There is great comfort for the 99 sheep. They know that the shepherd will seek out that ONE lost one.  And He will actively seek out the lost with passion. Also see Ezekiel 34: 11-12 “For here is what Adonai Elohim says “ I am taking over! I will search for my sheep and look after them myself. Just as a shepherd looks after his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep so I will look after my sheep, I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark”

The focus of the parable of the lost sheep should lie not so much in the rejoicing of the lost sheep found but in the divine need of the lost sheep for divine help. Divine help reaching to the lost BEFORE their repentance. In their uncut, unpolished and ugly nature.

We as true disciples face this challenge :

To become shepherds (or shall I say under shepherds/assistant shepherds) fully dedicated to the task of restoring the lost.

No doubt there is much effort to be put in, in seeking the lost and in restoring them, just as it is to seek the lost coin in the parable of the lost coin. We recognize and accept our duty as disciples to seek out the lost. Then we accept that it will not be easy and that effort must be invested. When Yeshua called us, it calling for ACTIVE discipleship. He is calling us always not just once. It is a continuous calling. So we must fellowship with “sinners” to make disciples.

If we fraternise with the lost, will be tempted to follow their ways?  Will we not risk hurt to ourselves? We may be. But we take many risks in life do we not? Will we not risk a road accident if we drive? Will we not risk hurt, rejection and abandonment when we enter into a relationship- any relationship with any fellow human? Will we not risk hurt and death when we get pregnant? Yet we take these risks daily. It is time to deny self, to die to self and pick up our cross. I have heard disciples saying, “I just simply do not like that person. I will not be mean to that person but I will not speak to that person or actively seek to help him (though I know he needs spiritual help)” This disciple thinks of himself without realizing it. He takes no risks. He wants no burden and no hurt. He harbours resentment and ill feelings though he tells himself otherwise or finds some justification. It is easier for him to avoid this lost sheep then to actively seek him out and help him.

If we keep close to our Master daily, He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our capabilities.  We are to study His word and take action. Hear and obey. The emphasis is Hear AND OBEY. Very active words. Not HEAR and obey (When I choose to). Perhaps the parable is stressing the importance of good works. We shy away from good works. There is a phobia towards “good works” We are saved NOT BY OUR WORKS. This is true. But once saved, we disciples ARE TO DO GOOD WORKS. This is what we are saved for! This is what we are called for! We do not study the word for the sake of  learning or selective obedience.

There is a happy ending for our efforts, for both ourselves and the found lost sheep. I pray that the light of Yeshua who lives in us will shine so brightly that many in the dark will come to us as moth to the candle.

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