‘If a [shepherd] has a hundred sheep, and one…is lost…Won’t he… search for the lost one?’ Matthew 18:12 TLB
When a traveller was robbed and left to die on the Jericho Road, Jesus said, ‘A… priest…Likewise a Levite…passed by on the other side’ (Luke 10:31-32 NKJV). That sounds cold, doesn’t it? But what if they overlooked the man not because they lacked compassion, but because they were late for a Bible study or a board meeting? Would they have been justified? One pastor writes: ‘This parable didn’t register until I’d been in the ministry for years. I’d walked past so many people who could’ve used my help, but because I was too distracted by church programmes, broken lives by the roadside rarely fitted into my agenda. Love isn’t efficient; it can’t be scheduled. This hurting man couldn’t have waited three weeks for an appointment, or for the Samaritan to launch a ministry of care to similar victims.’ Life’s most rewarding experiences rarely come in neat little packages. They’re found in unexpected encounters, and at critical times in the lives of people. In fact, some people who can’t remember your last sermon can tell you in detail what you said to them in the hospital, or over coffee last year, because it touched them so personally. Nothing in ministry is more seductive than thinking your work on behalf of the multitudes justifies ignoring those who can only be reached individually. Jesus said, ‘If a [shepherd] has a hundred sheep, and one…is lost…Won’t he…go…search for the lost one?’ When Peter said, ‘Lord…I love you,’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep’ (John 21:16 NIV 2011 Edition). And today He’s saying that to you, Pastor!