The Vine Press #01
By Reverend Alexa Ho
PJEFC’s theme for 2022 is ‘Following Christ out of comfort zone’, with the tagline “Each One Reach One”. To reach another often requires us to get out from our comfort zone, to where ‘another’ is. There are hurting people, the sick, the poor, the disillusioned, the ‘prodigals’, the fence-sitters who don’t want to commit yet to God. There are those who doubt whether anyone loves them. It’s been a difficult year for some, so they may be grieving and feeling a little hopeless. Still, there are those Luke describes as ‘lost’.
Luke 15: 1-32 contains a series of 3 parables – the parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son. They are all connected to stress a point, but I especially love the first parable (Lost Sheep).
While the word ‘shepherd’ is not used in this story, the description of a man owning a hundred sheep and going out to find the one which has strayed would have conjured up immediately in the minds of the Jewish hearers one of the basic images of the Old Testament, i.e. Shepherd of Israel. It’s often used by God himself as an image that speaks of His own care for His people, for example Isaiah 40:11, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young”. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, God goes even further, saying “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered”. (Eze 34. 11-12, cf 15, 31). Psalm 23, perhaps the best-known Psalm to many of us, says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (v.1)
This is how the kingdom of God is like – a good shepherd (like God Himself) seeking one lost sheep, and having found it, carry it back upon his shoulders, and rejoice that what was lost is now found. To God, even just one straying sheep is not despised by Him as unimportant. God values each sinner that is ‘lost’ and as His church, do we also value each one that is still lost amongst us?
1. Look for the one (1-4a) – Like the sheep in the parable, do we know of someone that is lost, i.e. living life without purpose, or living yet not finding fulfilment in life? If you still don’t have that ONE person in your mind, could it be that you are NOT looking ‘hard’ enough for him/her?
2. Leave to look for the one (4b) – To look for the lost, we have to first leave our comfort zone to where the lost sheep is. Coming to church on Sunday is good. Attending CG is good. Joining church programs is good. But most of the ‘lost’ sheep that need us to reach out to are not found in these ‘places’. Would you STEP OUT and go to where they are found?
3. Love the one to Christ (5-6) – Love means persevering to find and bring back the lost. There might be hindrances or even opposition along the way but we do not give up, for when the lost is found, there is great rejoicing in heaven.
Chances are all of us have that ONE friend/family member that has not encountered the love of God and needs an encouragement that God is within reach. Jesus is urgently saying to us, “I will send you to ‘fish’ for him/her, to reach out in love to that person.” Will you obey Him to reach one this year?
- Write down a name of a friend/family member/colleague that God has impressed upon your heart to reach out this year. You can of course write 5 names, but let’s start with this one name. Pray for that person daily. Look for opportunities to care and walk with the person, and move him/her to the right.
- Would you like to commit to praying for those who have yet to come to know and follow Jesus? Reach out to Ps James or Ps Jeremy. The Welfare Ministry and Migrants Ministry would love some prayer covering for their outreach efforts!