Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Does the Good Shepherd Idea Translate Into Practical Living?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How does the Good Shepherd who is seeking and finding His lost sheep translate into practical day-by-day living? If the Savior gives us a good faith-relationship with Himself, shouldn't it be fair for us now to "maintain" that "relationship" by (a) Bible study, (b) prayer, and (c) witnessing? If the Lord gives you a new car, isn't it fair that you "maintain" it by changing the oil, renewing the brake pads, paying the insurance, etc.?

Yes, it's fair, but a lot of cars fall into disrepair by not being "maintained." The new car thrill wears off; as also many people lose their "relationship with the Lord" by neglect and forgetfulness. So we have "revival" campaigns at various intervals. And of course, all that is good.

It sounds like reasonable good sense that millions know no other way to be Christians. But when you think it through, isn't this the essence of the "by faith plus by works" idea? We're afraid of any Good News that's better than that, because making the Good News too good might lull us to sleep and we'll forget to keep the law. The "faith plus works" idea becomes immensely popular because it seems to be the only way people can stay "faithful."

If the Good Shepherd has risked His own life to save the lost sheep, doesn't it make sense that He require the sheep to walk its way home? Yes, that's fair; but that's not what the parable says: "When He has found it, He lays it on His shoulders, rejoicing" (Luke 15:5). Paul says in Philippians: "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until [it is finished on] the Day of Jesus Christ" (1:6).

What does that mean? Lazy, do-nothing religion? No; it means that through the Holy Spirit the Good Shepherd who initiated this good "relationship" now seeks to maintain it. His love is not only a finding love, it's also a keeping love. The Holy Spirit is a Person who keeps convicting us of "sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). Be careful: don't drown His voice. That's where our problem starts.

Even Jesus, when he was with us in the flesh, needed His Father to wake Him up "morning by morning ... to hear as the learned." (Does the Father love you less? It seems fair to say No, He loves His Son more; but the amazing truth is He loves us just as much!) But Jesus did not resist His Father's awakening calls--as we do so often: "I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away" (Isa. 50:4, 5).

You can't save yourself even one percent. But you can let Christ save you, you can "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," you can "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," etc. (Phil. 2:5; Col. 3:16). You can stop resisting Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 12, 2003.
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