She stood just outside the make believe perimeter. A part of, yet not. She longed for their companionship, their understanding, their love and their acceptance. She doesn’t remember, really, how she came to be where she currently found herself—on the outside.
She had known this group for years. Her children grew up with their children. They had shared graduations, children getting married, the birth of grandchildren along with close calls and the grief of losing loved ones.
These were her people, her community, her tribe. Yet somehow she felt so disconnected from them. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? Was anyone praying for her? Would anyone reach out to her?
In this moment she felt like the one lost sheep that unknowingly wandered away from the flock and couldn’t find her way home. She needed help, yearned for it, for someone in her tribe to help her find her way back into the fold.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is addressing the lost sheep as a sinner that is found and saved. But what about those within the Body of Christ? The ones that aren’t lost physically or spiritually rather emotionally. The ones that once were included but now feel disconnected not sure why nor how to reconnect.
Surely Jesus wants us to go after those within our believing communities that have lost their way, to ‘find’ them and carry them back to the fold.
Jesus wants us to be inclusive not exclusive.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20.
Who is Jesus asking you to include in your circle of friends/influence? More importantly, what will you do?