I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.John 10:16
I had been a pastor for all of four years when I had an interesting conversation with a person in the balcony of the church.
I was up there setting up a new camera system (which is a hobby of mine).
This person met with me in reaction to a note I had sent them about not being in church for quite a long time.
They were a “de-churched” Lutheran. That means they grew up in the Lutheran church but since confirmation in the 8th grade, they had been sporadic participants at best.
This person wanted to assure me that they were still “spiritual” but that their faith was private. The implication was they didn’t need the church.
As I think about that encounter, that happened over twenty years ago, I still wrestle with this question: is our faith in Christ private? That is, just between me and God?
I must admit, I didn’t really know how to respond to this person back then. I knew what the right answer was, but I didn’t know how to articulate it at that particular moment.
Thankfully, years of experience has taught me patience, understanding, and empathy for such a person.
I also am thankful for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s new evangelism resource Everyone His Witness that helps me articulate the joyous truth of the Gospel of Jesus.
Part of that truth is that our Christian faith is not private, it is personal.
Sometimes we mixed those two ideas up. But a look at John 10 sheds light on just how personal our faith in Jesus is.
Jesus Finds You
In John 10, Jesus says that
The sheep hear his [Jesus’] voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. John 10:3-4
And in Matthew 18, Jesus says that
If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? Matthew 18:12
Jesus will personally come for you! I once heard it said that if you were the only sinner in the world, Jesus would still die for you.
It doesn’t get more personal than that!
But while our faith is personal, it is also corporate. By that I mean that we are personally found and called by Jesus but then placed into a group of people, a family of people that we typically call The Holy Christian Church.
Jesus lays down His life for the sheep – you and me. He dies to forgive all our sins. He gives us His very life, His righteousness.
He gives us a family to be a part of, to encourage us and strengthen us through His Word and Sacraments.
And then Jesus says this:
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:16
Our faith, our being a part of Jesus, is personal but not private. It is as public as anything!
This is the heart of Jesus. And it should be our heart as well.
Jesus Through You
Jesus came from you, to save you personally. But think about this: most likely, Jesus came for you through someone else!
It could have been a pastor who talked straight with you.
Or it could have been a person who walked with you through sickness and death.
Perhaps it was a teacher who cared about you or a coach who wouldn’t let you quit on yourself or the team.
Now its your turn. Take the time to talk with someone about the straight truth of the Gospel. Walk alongside someone going through sickness or death. Teach someone an important and personal lesson – perhaps one from your own experience! Or be a coach that won’t let someone quit on themselves!
In the end, bring that person to Jesus and bring that person to the Church.
You are one of Jesus’ sheep. I pray you will shine the light of Jesus in someone else’s life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus who personally came for me to save me. Use me, I pray, to bring others to the light of Jesus – shine through me in someone else’s life. In His name. Amen.
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