Enjoying the Journey
Sometimes God scatters His people. This is seen in the early church when believers were scattered because of persecution (Acts 8:4). But there is a huge difference between the scattering of persecution and the scattering of neglect. When God scatters a flock He does it to multiply and reproduce the flock in other places. If sin, fear, or the Devil scatters a flock it is always to divide and conquer.
We may soon see scattering because of persecution in our land but we are already witnessing the scattering of neglect. It is time to regather the flock.
Throughout both the Old and New Testaments God’s people are repeatedly referred to as sheep…prone to their own wanderings and the attack of others, and in desperate need of shepherding. Some things never change! Thankfully, we have a Good Shepherd in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:11), and He has commissioned undersheperds to lead and feed the flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). I have written about the importance of the pastor-shepherd in the past but their role is critical at this time.
Each local church is a “flock” of sheep. There are always some who are wounded and sometimes wayward. With recent circumstances in our world there are a host of sheep who have been separated from the rest of the flock and shepherds are working diligently to regather them.
Several have asked me in these days when all of the people will return. The truth is: some never will. Crisis hours reveal what was already reality in the heart. To change metaphors, it is my conviction that there is a purging going on in churches, but remember that after every purging there is typically a time of even greater fruitfulness. Some will leave, others will come, and the church of Jesus Christ will move forward.
This is a time for believers to stay close to God and to one another. We need the church! Here are a few things I know about the flock:
- Flocks are always in danger of being scattered. Predators circle and wait for the moment when circumstances are conducive to pick off straying sheep. By God’s grace determine that you will not be that one and that you will look out for others!
- Flocks need to be together. There is both safety and sustenance found in staying close. It is only pride that says, “I do not need to meet with the church.” On one hand pride says that we are self-sufficient (which we are not), and on the other it ignores the fact that the gathering of the church is not just about us – it is about every other member of the flock. We must humbly acknowledge that we need our church and our church family needs us. That is the way the Shepherd designed it.
- Flocks should follow the guidance of their undershepherd. God calls pastors for a purpose: to help keep the flock moving in the right direction, nearer to God and forward for the gospel. In the words of Hebrews 13:17, “they watch for your souls.”
- Flocks are not just essential for the sheep – they are especially important for the little lambs. I have wondered recently what long term effect will be seen in the lives of young people whose parents do not place a priority on assembling with the local church. Before the Lord Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep” He said, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15-17). If we are not ministering to the lambs soon there will be no flock.
Sin scatters. God gathers. His heart has always been to bring His own together. Soon the entire “flock” will gather at His house, but until then we must give attention to the flock where God has placed us. You may not be the undershepherd but you can help him! Keep an eye out for fellow sheep and stay as close to the Shepherd yourself as possible.
It is time to regather the flock.