17 June 2015

Bedraggled Sheep; it is impossible to weary God's love

"Jesus has some extraordinarily funny sheep, some bedraggled, dirty sheep; some awkward, butting and pushy sheep; and even some sheep that have gone astray.” ~ Oswald Chambers

Bedraggled isn’t a very common word.

It means dirty, scruffy, unkempt, or in a mess. Generally speaking - not pretty.

‘God loved you not because you were lovable, but because it was His nature to do so.  He will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit his love to them just as he has exhibited it to you.’ ~ Oswald Chambers

John 21:1-17
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way - Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore. “Bring some of the fish you have just caught. Come and have breakfast.”

Jesus took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
[excerpts from the passage]

- - -
Jesus asked Peter a very penetrating question, not once, but three times. Jesus probed Peter repeatedly in order to dig deep into his spirit. “Do you love me?” Do you really love me, beyond just saying the words?

Jesus is very intent as he teaches Peter about God’s Kingdom. He’s drilling home the point by repeating the same question because it’s important.

In response to Peter’s three affirmative declarations of love, Jesus pushed him even farther –
“If you love me… then feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep.”

Jesus challenged Peter with this concept. But he is likewise challenging each one of us to feed his sheep. Our love for others demonstrates that we love God.

We are to demonstrate our love for God by
•    nourishing
•    serving
•    comforting
•    strengthening
•    and loving others
"Peter realizes with the revelation of the Lord’s piercing question that he does love Him. Then comes the point. Don’t testify how much you love me and don’t talk about the marvelous revelation you have had. Just feed my sheep." ~ Oswald Chambers

In order to truly do this, the love of Christ must be our starting point.
“Those who do not love Christ will never truly love the souls of men. Nothing but the love of Christ will constrain us to go cheerfully through the difficulties and discouragements we will meet in this work.” ~ Matthew Henry

Speaking of difficulties and discouragements, what if God calls you to love someone that is unlovable? What if the person or people you’re supposed to care for are peculiar and utterly impossible to love?

During Jesus’ time on this earth, he repeatedly poured out his love to bedraggled, awkward, and unlovable sheep. Here are a few examples:
  • Only one healed leper out of ten bothered to say ‘thank you’.
  • Jesus’ family made various self-centered demands on him.
  • Jesus’ disciples were concerned about petty and trivial things. Instead of focusing on what Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God, they were more concerned about position and prestige.
  • His disciples didn’t stay awake with him at his most crucial hour.
  • Peter denied him. Judas betrayed him. 
  • Jesus endured much physical suffering, verbal abuse, and shame.
  • Imagine this - People even spit on his face.

In spite of all that, Jesus continued to pour his life into people, into bedraggled sheep. He continued to demonstrate a love that never stopped. Jesus persevered and offered his body on the cross, all because of his great love for us!
Does God really expect us to love awkward, bedraggled sheep the same way he did? 
There is no relief and no release from this commission. ~ Oswald Chambers

Remember what Jesus said. If you love me feed my sheep. In other words.... nourish, serve, comfort, strengthen, and love others.
We shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog. But if our motive is to love God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
~ Oswald Chambers

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Lamentations 3:22

Love always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7b - 8a
It is impossible to weary God’s love. And it is impossible to weary that love in me if it flows from the Spirit of God within me. ~ Oswald Chambers

It is only out of our love for God that we have any capacity to love others. True love must start with God because true love is not self-generated.
First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
1 John 4:19-21 (Message)

You cannot claim one without doing the other. We are to love God and his people.
“Jesus calls people into relationships that put them beyond their comfort level.”
~ Gary Thomas, Seeking the Face of God

The love of God pays no attention to my prejudices. If I love my Lord, I have no business to be guided by natural emotions. ~ Oswald Chambers

Will you die to yourself for another person?

Will you lay down your life for one of the many bedraggled sheep in this world?

What about your love for others?

Have you grown tired?

The command we have from Christ is blunt: "Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both." 1 John 4:19-21 (Message)

- - - - - -
The text above is a short version of a talk I gave at Crossroads Tabernacle in the Bronx, New York on June 14th.

Click here to listen to an audio recording of my talk. Scroll down until you find:
"Bedraggled Sheep" - Deb Smith - 6.14.15

preaching at Crossroads Tabernacle

No comments: