Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pastors: Part 3 When Sheep Wander

Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 

The Bible says that all we like sheep have gone astray. We are all prone to wander off the right path. As a pastor of a congregation, what do you do when you receive word that someone in the congregation has gone astray? How do you respond when you are told that someone has gone back to world? Are you supposed to contact them, or let them be? 
There isn't really any easy answer. We know that the heart of the  Great Shepherd is to seek and save those who are lost. I believe we should have that same heart. We are encouraged from scripture that if we see a brother straying from the truth, to go to them in a spirit of gentleness and seek to restore them. At the same time you don't always have that opportunity. A person may not want to be contacted. They don't want to hear from you. I do believe we should make the effort to reach out, to warn, to exhort, and even at times rebuke in love. Yet I also realize that this will not always be received. In those times when a person cannot be reached, or doesn't want to be reached, it is best to intercede for them in prayer. Ask Jesus to go after the one that is lost. Pray that they will come to the end of themselves. If they are in sin, pray that they will hate it and want to return. If they have gone into a relationship that has taken them away from Jesus and are living in sexual immorality, pray that the LORD will convict them. Pray that they will be miserable in their sin, and desire to come back to Jesus. 
If a person has gotten out of fellowship, and their relationship with the Lord is now something they are apart of only when it is convenient, pray that they will sense the need for fellowship. Pray that God will show them they have left there first love, and that they will return to it.  If they leave your church bitter for reasons you are aware of or are not aware of, pray that the Lord will speak to them.. if they have left your church,  pray that they find one that they can be apart of and grow in. These situations are never easy. As a pastor, these are the things that can keep you up at night. Because you are to have a deep concern and love for Gods people as a shepherd you can feel, and carry the weight of the sheep on your heart. The Lord often brings people to your mind and you  in turn bring them before the throne of grace in prayer trusting that the Lord is working even though you cannot see Him working. 

As a pastor you do the best you can, and trust the Lord with the rest. And remember if that person returns, love them and seek to restore them.