The Lost Shepherd
I often find myself encouraged by the way that Jesus lived His life and went about His ministry.
He genuinely loved people and had zero cares about doing the “right thing” in terms of religious and cultural norms. He didn’t just socialise with His disciples or with the religious, he hung out with all sorts of “disreputable characters”: we find Him throughout the gospels having dinner with tax collectors, healing the demon possessed, defending adulterous women and feeding thousands of annoying people who kept following Him when he wanted to be alone. I LOVE that He didn’t just look at these people and see them as hazards, even though their healing meant news spreading and His impending death. He didn’t just chuck them in the too-hard-basket – Jesus always made time for people. He never responded out of obligation or irritation, but always out of love.
That’s a challenging statement because it means that when people have issues (and they/we quite often do), we too, like Jesus, cannot look at them as risks and palm them off into the too-hard-basket. We have a responsibility (not an obligation) to see people ‘live their best life’.
We have a responsibility for others: to be a shepherd. The word shepherd speaks of one who tends sheep, of one who guides or steers toward a particular direction. Jesus was regarded as the good shepherd - "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10v11). When I think of a shepherd, I am also reminded of Rachel. She was considered a beautiful woman (Gen 29v17), yet she was also a shepherd. She was out in the fields tending her father’s sheep, willing to get her hands dirty.
I think, these days, getting your hands dirty and being a good shepherd looks like taking chances on seemingly disreputable people, making time for them, and genuinely having a response of love to see them live the life that God has intended for them.
In the words of Ann Voskamp (and this may just be one of my favourite quotes), “the world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things”.
I hope this encourages you too.