“Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions, ‘Don’t go to the Gentiles, or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel – God’s lost sheep.'” Matthew 10:5,6
I live and do ministry in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa – an area that sits right on the Mississippi River with a population of approximately 325,000. The QC is a pretty typical Mid-West area. There is massive farming communities immediately outside (and somewhat inside) the cities, We are home to several major manufacturers, and nearly everyone has a church background.
I’m amazed at how I often I run into people and how seldom any of them claim no church affiliation. Here in the Mid-West, church is something that nearly everyone grew up with. And regardless of whether or not you actually go to church has nothing to do with “belonging” to a particular flavor of of religion that your parents or grandparents said you belong to.
When Jesus sends His disciples out for the first time on their first attempt at doing ministry outside of his direct supervision, He instructs them not to go to the Gentiles (Non-Jews) or the Samaritans (Half-Jews), but to the people of Israel, “God’s lost sheep.”
Really? The Jews? God’s “lost” sheep?!? Didn’t Jesus understand how well these Jews knew God? How well they obeyed the Old Testament? Their superior understanding of the laws of Moses? Didn’t He see the synagogues filled each Sabbath day with Jews eager to obey God?
Out here, nearly everyone knows about Jesus, believes in God, and owns a Bible. Almost all QC residents would claim some building as “the church I grew in.” Many of them even make the occasional appearance for Christmas or Easter. Most were married in a church. But with all of this religion and church experience there is an enormous oversight…
You see, the Jews would not have considered themselves “God’s lost sheep.” They would have considered themselves to be God’s favorites. But the truth is, they were off. They had a “form of godliness” but not the true “power thereof.” Being in church doesn’t make you close to God any more than me being in a shop makes me a mechanic.
Be careful that you’re not so close to “God” that you miss Him completely. Understand that your connection to Him is as close as you want it to be – He’s never been the one to leave.
A lot of people know about God, but don’t actually have a relationship with Him. There’s a word for a person who knows a lot about someone without having a relationship with them: “stalker!” Too many people are stalking God, but have not accepted the invitation to know him through Jesus Christ.
What about you? Do you know God, or are you creepin‘?