When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly 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” John 21:15-17
What I’m about to pen is one of the most difficult I’ve ever written. I’m used to God giving me devotional thoughts about my own conduct, attitudes or habits that He’s working out in my sanctification process. A few days ago some circumstances arose that caused today’s topic to bubble up and form these questions in my brain. I haven’t been able to shake them and that usually means that I am to put them to paper (or computer screen as it were).
We are in the age of the ‘seeker-friendly’ church model. Thanks to Rick Warren and his mega-selling books we are “Purpose Driven ™” at every turn in our churches today. We have made our services less ‘traditional’ (whatever that means) and put high energy music, light shows and graphic visual presentations up to make it more appealing, like…dare I say….the world. It’s meant to be stimulating and attractive to those, who we call in our church-ese, the ‘un-churched’. Ok….so here’s my question, “who is feeding the sheep?”
It seems we (the church corporate) are so determined to make the pasture attractive and open to the goats (I use this term loosely) that we are not doing what Jesus told Peter to do if he loved Him. Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep. The emphasis is mine in that the lambs or sheep are those who are already in Jesus’ flock. Believers. Christ followers.
The church in the first century was the body of believers who met together to love each other, to edify one another and to share the journey in this very hostile world. While evangelism is a natural bi-product of maturing believers living out in the world and bringing the lost to their home churches, is it really the major function of the ‘church’ as a corporate body? Why do we tend to dismiss what those in the church voice as their needs, concerns or desires while making sure those who aren’t in the church will be ‘comfortable’, ‘entertained’ or ‘drawn in’? Who is 'making disciples' of those who come to Christ?
I know I’m stepping on some toes here, but exactly who is it our leaders are leading? Is packing the church more important than feeding the sheep? Do we tend to leave the 'tending' to the small group leaders for an hour on a Sunday? Are we more concerned about peoples' comfort for the short term than their need for repentance and salvation?
My simple prayer for the church is this,
Father, give us a passion for You which is greater than our passion for any other thing. Let our pursuit of holiness be led by Your Spirit, revealed by Your word and may it bring you glory in all ways. May we humble ourselves to walk in a way that doesn’t glorify our church, but the Son for whom You are preparing her as a spotless bride. Get us out of Your way. You asked Peter on the shore three times if he loved you and when he told You he did, you told him to take care of Your sheep, feed your lambs and feed Your sheep. Let us see how important this is to You and make it our priority as it was to you that day on the shore.