Gone. Just gone.
Jesus tells the story of a shepherd that leaves a flock of 99 to go in search of one sheep who wandered, who went missing, who didn’t show up for role call. The point is, God cares deeply about the lost. But does a real, live, genuine shepherd do that? Does that one sheep matter that much?
I’m thinking probably not. I’m thinking that he might not even notice losing one out of one hundred. A 1% loss n our investment? We wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
But I find that I do fret, lose sleep, and puzzle over one family that suddenly vanishes from church life. For the purpose of these thoughts, it is a person who held several leadership positions in the church. It wasn’t a gradual disappearance. It was a sudden here today, gone tomorrow event. In the span of just one week — gone.
Yes, of course, I tried to find out what was going on. I called. I texted. I emailed. I wrote two letters, put them in envelopes, affixed a stamp to each one and mailed them at the post office. I had a face-to-face conversation with the person, and never found out why they no longer came to worship, carried our their responsibilities, participated in church life or even responded to my attempts to reach out to them. Other folks from the church reached out to them. Phone calls. Emails. Conversations. The response? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nil.
OK, so when people began to stop following Jesus, he didn’t overreact. He simply asked his disciples, “Are guys leaving, too?” I guess he knew it would happen. He knew that everyone would abandon him. He knew that he wouldn’t win the popular vote or a popularity contest.
So why does it bug me so much? Is it because of all the time and energy I put into that family? Is it because of my own ego and wanting to see the church grow because that makes me look like a good pastor? Is it because I overestimated their commitment? Is it because of something else entirely unrelated to me?
IDK. I have no idea. I guess the only thing I know is that in good or in bad, it’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. He is the one I should pursue, think about, and talk about. He’s the boss.
I can’t remember where I read it, but it is a good reminder of what this is all about. Jesus wasn’t a cowboy, driving his herd into heaven. He was a shepherd, leading his flock.
That’s all I’m trying to do.