When you engage in “outreach” ministry, do you take up a cross and follow Jesus? Or do you make sure to avoid helping that hurts???
If I ask your sheep if they had a bed to sleep in last night, will they report that they did? Or will they show me a spot under a “no trespassing” sign where they camped?
If I follow your sheep around at … oh say… 9pm tonight, will they walk past your locked up church house door? And if I look at your million dollar budget will I find where you took a second vacation this year? If I visit your house will I find a guest room going empty night after night?
If I ask the giant grant-funding foundation about your proposal for which you receive the bulk of your funding, will I find you are more interested in preserving “the bottom line”, managing liabilities, raising money and looking good for the public than in carrying your cross and/or feeding the sheep? Did you mention the cross in that proposal at all???
Why would you? What does taking up a cross and following Jesus have to do with being a church and shepherding his flock??? For that matter, what does it have to do with anything? You got ANY idea?
And be honest, just between you and God here for a moment… Did you throw homeless people out to the streets last night?
Think about it.
Think now while you still have time.
Hear what God says through his prophet Ezekiel to the wayward shepherds of Israel:
Woe To The Shepherds!
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
“Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.
I didn’t see one word of concern about whether your help might hurt the sheep. Not one. But I sure did see a lot there about feeding yourself and blowing off the flock! Yup! I saw plenty of that.