Feeding Sheep during Quarantine
Yes, you read that title correctly. The United States as well as many, if not most, of the countries around the world is in quarantine because of Covid-19.
But sheep still have to eat and someone has to feed them. There’s a portion of Scripture that speaks of this. After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.” Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”…”Master, you’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep…” (John 21:15-17, Message).
By repeating his question to Peter three times, we know that his message was very important to, not just Peter, but to all coming after him who say that they love Jesus. I believe that Jesus is here proclaiming that looking to the needs of others is the grand test of love for him. The analogy that he uses is sheep.
Peter, though a fisherman by trade, would have been familiar with the work of a shepherd and the nature and needs of sheep. He understood that shepherding sheep included the feeding, the guarding, and the caring for the wellbeing of the flock.
Who were the sheep that Jesus was referring to in these verses? He referred to them as, “my sheep.” These are Jesus’ lambs and sheep, those who have accepted his work of salvation on the cross and are a part of his flock. Jesus wants to use each of us to help feed and shepherd his flock. If you answer, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” Jesus responds, “Feed my sheep.” And, I believe that is just the starting point to meeting needs of others. The story of the Good Samaritan clearly demonstrates that God wants us to show compassion to and meet the needs of those who are not a part of his flock. They are still his creation, made in his image. By “feeding” them, we may be able to lead them into the flock of the Good Shepherd.
In ordinary times, feeding and shepherding “the flock” for you widows may mean visiting the sick and/or providing meals for their family, opening one’s home for a Bible study for new believers (lambs), taking a lonely person out to lunch, sending cards to shut-ins, and dozens of other ways that you might demonstrate your love for Christ. But living under quarantine of a plague, that even medical science is just coming to grips with, is not an ordinary time. So how does one feed sheep during these extraordinary times?
We all know and have experienced the use of technology that churches have employed so that pastors and church leaders can keep their flocks fed with God’s Word. Those same churches, as has mine, are providing gas to fuel vehicles of hospital workers and first responders, making mask for everyone, and coffee for their breaks and even lunches for them. Some learn who the needy sheep in their communities are and either give them needed cash or supply food for them. One way that you can assist in these demonstrations of love would be to give a little extra money to your church so that these acts of compassion can continue.
I think that Jesus would have each of us do more and look beyond our own communities at the larger flock of sheep to which each of us belongs. We all recognize that Jesus died for all his sheep in all areas of the world. Likewise, this Covid-19 has struck all over the world and, while it is no respecter of persons, not all are equally able to survive its devastation. Not all nations have the resources and/or moral conscience to assist their citizens to the degree that the United States does. Many nations are steeped in traditions and superstition that keep their citizens in such a state of poverty that it is almost incomprehensible to us as Americans. Does Jesus love those sheep as much as he loves those in western cultures? “Of course he does!” each of us would respond. Jesus has one universal flock of sheep and his command to feed them knows no geographical boundaries.
Some of you are on a meager retirement income; others of you have a greater abundance of financial means. It doesn’t really matter because it all belongs to God anyway, and you are just stewards of it. But, how you steward it demonstrates your true love for him.
I was amazed this week as I heard a women on video, who has visited the large, densely populated nation of India many times. Kathlein Ambridge works closely with a Christian organization there. In the video she mentions that a person for $2.00 U.S. can be fed for an entire week. You couldn’t buy a hotdog in most cities for that amount of money. Yet this organization, Kerusomen Gospel Ministries, which Friends Needing Friends has helped by supporting 20 desperately poor widows, can purchase fresh produce and fruit and distribute to the poorest of the poor during this quarantine. For just $8.00 they can keep that food supply going until the end of the quarantine period (4 weeks). I mention this ministry because of FNF’s association with it. To learn more about the ministry visit Kerusomen.org or watch the video of Kathlein below.
You can “feed sheep” by praying regularly and diligently for others, or making a phone call to an individual living alone for whom the sound of another voice beats anything money can buy.
It is not my intent to tell you how to “feed God’s sheep.” How you respond to need and how you demonstrate your love for Jesus is strictly between him and you. But I do know that Jesus’ command to “feed my sheep” is for all believers and there’s no more urgent time to act upon that command than now. Nothing goes unnoticed by the Great Shepherd and you will be abundantly blessed by making another sheep bleat less and “skip and run” more.
|Message by Shari Hervold|