Sunday, March 21, 2010

How are your sheep?

“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” – John 21:16

I remember an assignment from high school when our English teacher has us list all the roles we have in this life. For example, today, I am a mother, a daughter, a girlfriend, a best friend, a niece, a cousin, a neighbor, an employee, a co-worker, a customer, and the list could go on and on. These roles define those that my life impacts. The people who I interact with are those that Jesus would call my sheep. As a shepherd tends to his sheep, so I am to tend to those that I am in contact with.

Simon Peter, one of the 12 disciples that followed Christ, had come to a tough spot in his life. He had told Jesus that he would never turn from him – he would always be by His side and on His side! But seeing Jesus in the hands of the enemy and about to be taken to prison, he became fearful and denied he even knew Jesus – not once, not twice, but three times. Soon after that Jesus was crucified and died with Simon Peter still broken and out of fellowship with Jesus.
But Jesus would not leave him out of fellowship!

After Jesus had risen from the grave three days later, he met with Simon Peter and the other disciples. As they were having breakfast, John 21 tells us that Jesus asked Simon Peter three questions. If we were to put this into a movie scene, the disciples would all be present around the breakfast table, probably passing the biscuits and gravy, and the conversation would go something like this:

Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
Simon: “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
Jesus: “Feed My lambs”

Jesus: “Simon, Son of Jonah, do you love me?”
Simon: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus: “Tend my sheep”.

Jesus: “Simon, Son of Jonah, do you love me?”
Simon: “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.”
Jesus: “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus gave Simon Peter three chances to redeem himself – to come back into fellowship with Jesus - because he had three times denied him. I think that He wanted Simon Peter to understand that each one of those times had hurt their relationship.

Each time Jesus asked, He also gave Simon a way to show his love. He asked him to feed and tend to His sheep. Jesus wasn’t talking about a herd of real sheep. He was talking about His followers. The feeding and tending they would need would not only be a physical one, but a spiritual one. Simon Peter was instructed to spiritually tend to the needs of the followers of Christ by teaching them and leading them. His duty would not be to show love to Jesus, but to show love to those that Jesus loved by serving them.

Today we’re often in the same situation as Simon Peter found himself. We have a love for Christ that we will admit to Christ, but often deny to the world. It’s sometimes easier to deny Christ - or just keep silent, which is also denial - in a group of people that would ridicule us as “greater than thou” or “Jesus Freaks”. Christianity is not popular in all circles!

Not stepping up to the plate when God gives us an opportunity to stand for Him causes us to lose fellowship with Him. It is sin. Many of us don’t realize we’re not in full fellowship because we’ve not once stepped out of the batter’s box. We go to practice every Sunday morning, and learn how to swing the bat, but we never step up to the plate to find out how wonderful it can be to hear God, our audience, cheer for us! We’re either afraid of failure or, as Simon Peter was, the other team.

Jesus instructs us just as He did Simon Peter, to prove our love for Him through our actions. We are to tend to, take care of, and feed spiritually those around us.

So who are your sheep? They are those people you interact with every day. They’re your children, your family, your friends, your coworkers, your employers, your neighbors, your mail carrier, your auto mechanic, your hair dresser, your cashier, your plumber – anyone you come in contact with.

If these people were asked if you were a Christian, if you loved Christ, what would they answer?

Would they know?

Have you shown them?

How are your sheep?