Little Lost Sheep

Our community has the highest percentage of homeless per capita in the district. We also have the highest percentage of live births to unwed teenage moms in the district as well as the highest percentage of drug and alcohol abuse.

These were some of the facts that came out yesterday at an information meeting I attended, hosted by the local ministerial association. The focus of the meeting was on the community services available to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the community. That we aren’t doing enough was obvious.

But as we heard about, and talked about, the situation in our community, I was reminded of how important it is that our “gospel” be a holistic one. We can’t just look after the physical, mental and emotional and only give a passing glance at the spiritual anymore than we can focus entirely on the spiritual and only give a passing glance at the others.

Jesus covered all the bases in His ministry. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, cast out the demons, and dealt with the spiritual needs of people.

This morning I read again the parable of the lost sheep the Jesus told as recorded for us in Luke 15.

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

We think of that lost sheep “spiritually” but chances are the shepherd might have had to deal with some other issues in that rescue. That sheep was not only lost, but perhaps hungry, alone, frightened, in danger. Its rescue involved more than transferring it from outside the fold to inside the fold.

The most vulnerable in our community are the most obviously in need of a holistic gospel. It does little good in the end to heal, feed, and deliver people from the dark edges of their minds, if we don't prepare them for eternity. Added to these are the silent many who walk our streets, hold down jobs, and function well within society but who are still missing the most vital of all the ingredients: the spiritual.

None of the lost sheep can be ignored.


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