Why are some of the reasons why people have dropped out of groups and churches during this pandemic? There are many reasons, but I believe all the reasons boil down to one thing: a lack of care. Consider the words of Jesus from four verses in John:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about the sheep….But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.John 10:11-13,16 (CSB)
Lack of Care for Jesus
For some who dropped out, it is a lack of care for Jesus. They have forgotten what He did for them. They have forgotten that He is the shepherd-owner of the sheep. He paid our sin penalty on the cross.
How can they (and we) forget? How can they (and we) develop a lack of care for Him? For most, it happens unintentionally. We get busy. We forget to spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer. If a husband and wife stop talking to one another on the honeymoon, how can that relationship continue? In the same way, a lack of two-side conversation with our Lord causes us to drift away from Him.
Lack of Care for Each Other
Another contributing issue can occur when we get upset at someone, the pastor or another person. As a result, we push away from the person and church and often God. We allow our anger to come between us and God. We read in 1 John 4:20 (CSB): “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
At the same time, the Lord also gives each of us a church body. Every part of the body is to care about and for the other parts of the body. We are shepherd-stewards of our relationships in our churches, groups, and classes. Why do we run away when we see a wolf (or trouble) coming rather than providing help? Why do we not reach out in care to new people when they join? In John 10:13, Jesus said, it is because we don’t care about one another (the sheep).
Love for one another is not optional. It is a command. In John 13:34-35 (CSB), Jesus said, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As never before, we must be intentional. We must pursue people with care the first time they are absent. We must seek to reconcile every issue coming between us. We must all do our part.
Lack of Care for Sheep Outside the Sheep Pen
Without care for Jesus and His sheep, we will never reach out in care for sheep in our community and world. Without care, we will not share Jesus with people in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, the marketplace, or world. When we bring them to church, to our groups, and to Him, He says they will listen to His voice. And our stories of gospel conversations shows that over and over.
They are waiting for us to care, to share His love, and to invite them. Much spiritual openness exists right now. The Spirit is at work in our world. Care enough to have a conversation. Care enough to meet a need. Care enough to pray with people. Share your testimony.
Take the Love Dare to Show Your Care
This thanksgiving season, act out your care. Read the love note from God (His Word). Write Him a note, expressing your thanks and love. Pray about how you can do the same with each other and those outside the sheep pen. Get in the habit of caring. Remember that God loved you and them enough that He sent His son to die for us. May God’s care begin with us and change the world!