There is a special burden for some, if you will, those who have come out of the sheepfold, those believers who have a desire to serve in a greater capacity for our Lord, to go a little further. I have mentioned in some of my letters to you the unusualness of this desire in this age, how very few seem to want to stand up, as it were, and seek more duties, more service to our Lord. I do not mean in this description service to a church, though in some cases this could be construed as such, but a direct pleading to the Lord Jesus to intervene in their personal lives to use them for a greater purpose, a purpose that perhaps only they and the Lord are aware of, besides those that He has called them serve.
When you think on ones that have been asked to go a little further, to come out of the sheepfold, think on Peter, James and John. In more than one instance these three were called by our Lord to attend with Him when others were not. Those that were not so called were not lessened by this, but understood that their objective that the Lord was preparing them for was not the same as these three, and we need to understand the same in the context of these letters and our concern with the fellowship of His suffering. We as Christians seem to think of suffering in this age as one of extreme physical torment, usually inflicted by those who hate our Lord, with the intent of trying to get us to change our confession of faith in Him. While this is happening every day, and we will address the terrible truth in perhaps the last letter in this series, though I am in no way able to give justice to it, today, if you will, we will concentrate on a burden we are all to have, the souls of men.
We must give thought here to the lost in this area, those who have not yet, and may never, give their lives to Christ, and the tears that should be running down all our faces as we think on them. I would hope that each of you reading this have at least once, and hopefully many times in your lives, spoken to those individuals that are not children of God, whose lives still revolve around themselves and the world around them. I actually believe, at least in most cases, these are easier to speak with, at least initially, than those who profess to know Christ, yet are self-deceived, for the lost are generally open, rarely rude, and for the most part, completely unaware of the truth of the Scripture, and so our opening lines are accepted with curiosity, yet trepidation. The main subject that we are looking at today though is not whether they accept Christ, or at least listen, but how we approach our own feelings about our encounters with them after the talking is over.
Too many of us tend to think in absolutes, especially in this area, we have done what we have been commanded to do, we have planted a seed, now we just sit back and hope it takes root, rarely returning with a watering can to assist in whatever way we can with that possible growth. We tend to see them as a lost cause before we have even determined there was a cause in the first place, allowing our own interpretation of the conversation with them determine any future consideration.
Others who call themselves Christians, I will make no determining factor here, that is for our Lord to know, do not even do this much, at the most they will invite these lost souls to church, and at the least they will look upon them with disdain, seeing them as less than themselves, forgetting they themselves were once lost, and someone somewhere took the time to talk with them. To know our Lord and Savior is not only a great blessing, a blessing beyond all comparison, but should be a great burden, and that burden should be expressed in our desire to lead others to Him.
“No man, when He has lit a candle, covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed; but sets it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16) Too many Christians constant prayers revolve around ‘Help me’ and not ‘Lead me,’ too many of us are too embarrassed to speak of our Lord even in casual conversation with those we know are not saved, leaving the task in our minds for those who are better versed in the Scriptures, those that are in positions within the church we deem to be responsible for these actions, to anyone one but ourselves for almost any reason. There is no burden in our hearts for these individuals, and with no burden comes no concern or care, no matter how we try to express it in other words. If you are not witnessing to the lost, you don’t care about the lost.
As Jesus drew others to Himself, we are to draw them to Him, if we do not, we are not fulfilling the commandment of Mark 16:15 to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Again, here many would try to use the excuse that they are not the preacher, pastor or whatever title they have given to the person who stands behind the pulpit each weekend, but you are. You do not need a doctorate, you need to know the doctrines of the Word of God, you do not have to have attended a seminary school, you need to study to show yourself approved, (2nd Tim. 2:15) you don’t need to be an elder or on a church board, you need to be obedient and willing, but above all, you need to have a heart for them, you need to be able to see them on fire. You need to know the eternal suffering that is waiting for them, and not fear to love them.
If they will not think on the eternal torment that awaits them, then you must do it for them, and then your heart will know the fellowship of the Lords suffering in this area, for He loves them also. No matter the shame, the ridicule, the pain in whatever way it presents itself, we must be able to see those who are lost in their final state, in the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15) This burden alone should give you pause each time you meet someone to say within yourself “Lord, is there something you want to say to this person,” and if you will do this, even though not every time will you present the entire Romans road to them, something will come out of your mouth that you perhaps were not prepared to say, something that will let this person know that you care about their life here as much as where they could go after this life. This person will weigh on you, the path that they are on you will know, for you have been on it yourself, and by the grace and mercy of God you will begin to understand that this person means as much to you as they do to our Lord.
Herein lies the burden though, the fellowship of His suffering, not everyone you speak to will become an obedient servant of our Lord, in fact, the vast majority of them will politely excuse themselves and go on their merry way all the way to the grave, self-deceived and lost forever, and you will have to live with that fact, you will have to live with the tears, the sorrow, the knowledge of the truth that you so much wanted them to understand. It is a path of great sorrow that at times, if left unchecked and not placed before the Lord, can lead to great depression within the believer, but it is one that will always lead you directly to the presence of our Risen Savior, and the peace and hope that has always been waiting for you there, the peace and hope you tried to share with them.
It will lead you to a greater knowledge of what it truly means to take His yoke.
We suffer with Him when we are willing to carry the burden of the knowledge of the lost within our hearts, and still praise Him for the next opportunity to serve them, no matter the outcome.