What do you do when the sheep you search for do not want to be found? That is a really hard question. In the Parable of the Lost Sheep we can see ourselves in both the role of the sheep who Jesus comes to bring back to the fold or as the shepherd of goes looking for the sheep who are lost.
In the first instance we have a lot of Great Commission stuff going on – going out and seeking the lost, those who have fallen away from the fold or those who have never been part of it. We are also the sheep who go astray to find ourselves in precarious places where dangers to the soul lurk. We need shepherd.
However, I want to focus on the role of shepherd and the sheep who do not want to be found. We all have these people in our lives who are content for one reason or another to forsake the fold, thumb their noses at God and go no their merry way. When we search for them they push us away. What are we to do? Many pastors would say keep trying and I suppose if you feel you have not yet exhausted all possible energy and God is saying “Keep Trying” by all means do so. I have met a lot of people who have become brokenhearted and worn out continuously running after sheep who were not lost but who left on their own accord.
Jesus tells in Luke 10:8-11 that we are only to bring His word to other. What they do with it us up to them. If they accept it they will be blessed, if not the consequences are on them.To often we feel that we need to ram the Word of God down people’s throats, pester them back into the fold and if we do not keep on going we will not be doing what Christ has called us to do. We must remember however Christ only offered His gift of salvation and he offered it freely and gently. People were allowed to freely take it or leave it.
Does this mean we are not to bring the Word of God where this is difficulty or rejection – No. What I am saying is there will be “sheep” who want nothing to do with the shepherd and no amount of worry and work on the part of the shepherd will change that. It is only by the work of the Good Shepherd that they will change.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you sent the Good Shepherd to find us when we had gone astray and that by the power of your Holy Spirit you continue to find us when we are lost and bring us home. Help us to reach out to the lost sheep in our lives but also help us to have peace when they willingly run from us. Help us to trust in you and put these most difficult strays in your hands, AMEN.