What’s Become of Them?

My Dear Shepherds,

During one of our Sunday morning services not long-ago people were invited to stand and tell us in a sentence or two how they were born again. This is what we heard:

“I came to Christ the first time I walked through Crosspoint’s doors.” “At work one day I saw that my coworker was reading the Bible. My life was a mess and I started asking her questions. She led me to Christ.” “I found Christ at the Rockford Rescue Mission when I was puking from heroin withdrawal. I’m 10-plus years clean today.” “When I came out of college I was a flaming atheist. A friend challenged me to read the Gospel of John and I became a born-again Christian.”

Jesus inaugurated his Messianic work by laying claim to Isaiah’s prophecy:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19)

Jesus’ words are rich with redemption. “Freedom” and “free” mean “forgiveness” and “pardon.” Isaiah often promised God-given sight for blind hearts: “I will turn darkness into light before them” (Is. 42:16).

Some pastors often witness moments when Jesus makes a pauper rich, when the Father welcomes a prodigal. Other pastors wait a long time. Those testimonies are just the beginning. We do most of our ministry on this bright side of salvation. The Holy Spirit enlists us to feed, lead, and guard those whom he has immortalized.

Remember when Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven”? Or the “sinful woman” whom Jesus told, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”? People like that are entrusted to pastors.

Sometimes believers need our help finding safe shelter in a terrifying storm. Others come ashamed, hounded by the Accuser. Some have let their faith go hungry. They haven’t taken in a biblical morsel in weeks. They haven’t so much as hummed a song of Zion. We stand there welcoming them all to the holy living room of God, with its lamp of truth, loaves of fellowship, and fragrant incense of worship.

We meet believers at all stages. Don’t you love pastoring the strong young men and women in the Lord! They see visions. They have new songs to sing. They ask good questions and aren’t afraid of a challenge. They give us hope: “You are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn. 2:14).

Then there are the old, faithful believers. Some quote verses in KJV. They’ve rocked babies, taught kids, sat on boards, worked in the kitchen, given money, and remember our predecessors. They’ve walked dark valleys and see death ahead. They’re brave. Their faith is gilt-edged. They think about heaven. Some would tell me, “I pray for you every day, Pastor.” Psalm 92 says, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

Every Christian embodies an extraordinary story of grace. Whether they came to Christ at their mother’s knee (like me) or when they cried out to God in desperation at a rescue mission, angels rejoiced when the Good Shepherd found them! Their names are written in the Book of Life. They “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” And you are their pastor.

Be ye glad!

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