Friday, September 06, 2013

Commentary: Giving All for the Sheep

Giving All for the Sheep

A Brazilian evangelist, Pastor Veloso, was in the middle of what could
have been his most successful evangelistic series. It was in a
stadium and thousands were attending. Hundreds had already made
decisions to get baptized. And, they expected hundreds more to do so,
possibly topping the thousand mark. This man had had an incredible
track record. Thousands had come to the church due to his preaching.
But, it had come at a cost.
The news came to him in the morning. His son, Chico, had been picked
up by government authorities. Chico was hospitalized, and found with
high levels of heroin in his system. To make matters worse, Chico
also had a couple of grams of heroin in his pant pockets. The plans
were to clean Chico up and send him to jail. But, out of courtesy for
Pastor Veloso, they delayed making a decision, until contacting him.
The authorities had high regards for Pastor Veloso.

Pastor Veloso called for an emergency meeting with his staff and
organizers. They all agreed that a scandal like this could hinder his
ministry. How should they handle it? Some suggested asking the
authorities to quietly put Junior in a rehab center, citing that God's
work must go on. Others, suggested, to hold a press conference, come
out in the open, that way the scandal is minimized, and the ministry
is hindered less.

A young pastor opened up his Bible and read from Luke 15: 4 – 24.
This is the passage that talks about the parable of the lost sheep,
the parable of the lost coin and the parable of the prodigal son.
These are very familiar parables. They describe how something that
was lost was found and recovered. Spiritually, how each one of us was
found by God and recovered.
After finishing reading, the young Pastor then asked Pastor Veloso,
"The people you preach to, what are they: lost sheep, the lost coins,
or the prodigal children? How about your son?" Pastor Veloso started
to cry. All the men in then room were dumfounded, then they looked at
the young pastor and yelled at him, "Look at what you've done."
Pastor Veloso then said with a loud voice, "Let him be. He's right.
If I went to reach lost sheep, I did not secure the one I had to find
the others. If I went to find lost coins, I have been cleaning
everybody else's home, but mine. Now, if my son is a prodigal son, he
needs to know that I am waiting for him, and I need to actually wait
for him." Pastor Veloso resigned that same day, to save his son.

Pastor Veloso's son eventually cleaned up, gave up drugs and gave his
life to Christ. He said, "My Dad gave up everything for me, just as
Christ gave up everything for us. Just the thought of that and that
heaven rejoiced when I gave myself to Christ makes me rejoice. I
wonder if heaven rejoiced also when my Dad chose to give up all for

The Bible revelation of the character of God is: Jesus says, "The Son
of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost" (Luke 19:10).
The story of the prodigal son emphasizes the seeking love of the
father—the lost boy would never have said, "I will arise and go to my
father" unless the seeking love of the father had drawn him ( John
12:32, 33).

Our children and youth must not be given the idea that God is like a
doctor deep in his inner office, hard to find! The seeking love of the
Father and the self-emptying love of Christ must be made plain early
and through their teen years. An outward profession based on fear is
empty; it's the heart that must be won by the truth of His love.

Our current "offer" view of God's forgiveness forces us to see the
prodigal son differently. If he is "under condemnation" until he takes
the initiative to come home, he cannot be a family member, a son; he
is a stranger. But the biblical view sees the prodigal as still being
a son even while he was rioting and then in the pigsty—a son, indeed,
although a lost one. Did the father "make" him a son only when he came

The Bible view tells the prodigal, You are a child of God "in Christ"
by virtue of His sacrifice as the second Adam, and He has elected you
since He gave Himself for you on His cross. But you have wandered away
and sold your birthright. Now, realize and appreciate your true status
in Him. Let His love draw you home where you belong, by virtue of His
already adopting you "in Christ."

God does not regard unconverted people as wolves to be shot down as
soon as possible; no, but He regards them as sheep, not in the fold,
to be sure, but still sheep— lost sheep. They need to be converted, to
be born again, yes; but all the while God considers them to be heirs
to His estate because He sent forth His Son to be "made of a woman" as
we are all "made of a woman." He has adopted the human race "in

You are not to think of yourself as an outsider, says Paul. Because of
Christ's sacrifice, you are now "in the family," adopted (Eph. 1:5),
loved all the while as the prodigal son was loved. But you didn't know
it; you felt ostracized, estranged, alienated, lost, rejected; but God
did not regard you as estranged or alienated. He reconciled you to
Himself "in Christ." Now, says Paul, "be ye reconciled to God." The
proof that He has reconciled you? Gal. 3:6, "God has sent forth the
Spirit of His Son into your heart, crying, Abba, Father." What a
beautiful, yes and powerful, illustration of Good News "in Christ,"
and now you can see it for yourself, because your human heart is
crying "Father... !"
The expression from the prodigal to his father: "I have sinned against
you," lets you know that the prodigal finally understood the grief he
caused to his father. The greatest motivation to make changes in
our lives is the desire to no longer break the heart of the One who
loves us so much. When the boy was wallowing around in the mud with
the pigs, the father suffered more than his son. Revival occurs when
God's love breaks our hearts. Reformation occurs when we choose to
respond to a love that will not let us go. It occurs when we no longer
want to do anything to break God's heart. It takes place when we make
the difficult choices to give up those attitudes, habits, thoughts,
and feelings that separate us from Him and hence, break His heart.

Raul Diaz