(and now I have the Filter version of that song from the X-Files movie stuck in my head...)
The Spousal Unit and I went to Life Group on Sunday night. We had a good time. PW makes dinner and then we get into a directed study for a while afterwards. One of the things I really like about it is Head Guy keeps things within a time frame. We can all talk, question, et cetera, but if it's getting close to the magic hour, he'll note that we need to wrap it up and then keep it directed towards that end. Yay for someone who can land the plane!
Anyhoo, we are currently going through the parables and the PotW** was about the sheep - you know, the one that goes skipping merrily off from the ninety-nine and the shepherd goes to find it. One of the questions posed was why the shepherd (or us, really) might go after the one and the general consensus was because we knew what kind of trouble the sheep could get its little self into. Plus, we also know what the sheep is capable of - both good and bad.
The conversation switched to types of sheep and boundaries were brought up; specifically, the idea that grace is a part of sheep-catching but that doesn't mean the fluffy little bugger gets to overrun your boundaries and/or take advantage of you. Jesus showed grace but He also called people on their issues when He needed to. Forgiveness does not recreate you into a door mat. It doesn't require that you lay down and let the person walk all over you. Forgiveness does not necessarily equal relationship restoration in some cases. At that point, it's basically saying, "I care about you and I love you. I am forgiving you for what you have done to me because I need to in order to be able to move on."
It also doesn't mean God isn't going to allow Woolyhead the consequences of his/her actions. We all make good and bad choices and I have yet to see God somehow completely go against the laws of nature and wipe out every consequence or every hurt from memory and set the counter back to zero. God can (and has) done miraculous things but I think He also sees the value in us learning from what we've done and working to set things right both in the horizontal and the vertical. How can we grow if everything that comprised our learning becomes a do-over?
While everyone was talking about the more visible types of sheep (addicts, thieves, etc), I started thinking about "other" sheep. If Christians are the ninety-nine, then anyone who isn't is pretty much the "one". I don't think that means we immediately go out and start proselytizing to people willy-nilly (wooly-bully?); however, I do think it means we need to invest in the lives of the "ones".
For example, the Spousal Unit and I go out to have a drink on Friday nights and talk about our week. We usually get the same waitress and we've kind of gotten to know her a bit. Last Friday before we left, the SU spent some time talking to her about how she was doing in school and what was going on. As we walked out to the car, I looked at him and said, "You're sowing." His reply. "Yup." It's not a big thing. It's not handing her a tract (oh, how I hate those). It's just spending a couple minutes a week finding out who she is and what's important to her. You gotta know somebody first, y'know?
My mom is one of the sheep who's kind of wandering on the outskirts of the flock - has been ever since my dad died. She is lonely and afraid. It's one of the reasons I talk to her every night. She's already technically one of the ninety-nine but by investing in her, I know our relationship has grown and changed. She talks to me now about things she wouldn't have before; things that concern and frighten her, worries she has about Heaven and my dad, insecurities, and so on. I'll admit there are times I repeat that verse about "widows and orphans" because some days it's hard to get through that call. Still, it's worth it to help her feel safe and secure not only in our relationship but also in the ones she will have after death.
So..the sum of all this nattering on? Sheep. They come in many forms. Be on the lookout.
**PotW = Parable of the Week