Spiritual Anticipation

Yesterday our church family were excited and joyful about a few things. First of all, we celebrated the recent birth of a baby girl to one family with a thanksgiving and dedication. Secondly, we congratulated a young couple who have got engaged. Everyone was talking about the wedding, when, where, etc. Thirdly, we are anticipating another couple having a baby in the summer. There will be new parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties.

The other week I sat with a church member by the bedside of a dying relative. Over the past week I’ve been in regular touch with them to see how they were doing. We’ve also been concerned for other families where there is acute ill health, in a couple of cases its related to aging. As well as sharing in joy and excitement, we share in sadness and concern too.

All of those things are right and proper but I wonder if our sharing in joy and excitement goes far enough. What happens when someone’s spiritual future is at risk? If other elders know that one or two from their number are visiting someone because they are concerned about sin, then are they aware and alert to when that meeting is. Are they waiting for news? Are they praying whilst the meeting happens? What about when a discipline matter is shared with the church members.  When we took the members through a serious discipline matter a few years back we shared the matter at one members meeting and then affirmed the decision at a later meeting.  During that time, we were continuing to appeal to the person concerned to repent.  What is our response during that time? Are we praying with a sense of urgency and deep concern? Is there real sadness and grieving?

What if we knew that someone was about to hear the Gospel 1-1, or we saw a friend bringing an unbeliever along to a meeting.  Would there be prayerful and excited anticipation about he possibility of new birth. What happens when we find out that someone is seriously considering a Gospel calling to be a pastor, church worker or missionary. Are we as excited and interested as when we find out that someone is going to get married?  Are we thrilled, excited, impatient for the day when a few people will get baptised?

“3 So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”[1]

[1] Luke 15:3-7.