Follow the Wanderers
(James 5:19-20 TLB) Dear Brothers if anyone has slipped away from God and no longer trust the Lord, and someone helps him understand the truth again that person who brings him back to God will have saved a wandering soul from death, bringing about the forgiveness of many sins.
Out of our comfort zone may not be the most comfortable place for us to go. Well actually I know it isn't. I don't like to leave mine either. But if we can stretch and venture out we can save a wandering soul from death, and thus bring about the forgiveness of many sins. That is totally awesome. It requires an action, an action of faith.
As James is speaking in these verses I get the distinct impression that we won't find these wanderers at church on Sunday morning. Something tells me that if they have slipped back into their old way of living that we may have to venture out of our comfort zone to find them. It may be that they do not want to be found, especially by the church. It may be that they tried church and failed. It could be that they are just waiting on one more person the say something. 5 words would probably do. 5 little words. We miss you at church.
Some churches have Touch Committees. I think this should actually involve touching. Cards are nice but it is so much better to call or visit. It doesn't have to be a long conversation. Just 5 little words are all that is necessary. Those 5 little words could possibly make a world of difference. If it shines a light on one person for God, it will shine throughout the entire family.
Families are in trouble today. They do not take their children to church. I have an idea for 2 new billboards. I just don't know who is going to pay for them. One says, "Prevent Domestic ViolenceGo To Church." The other one says, "Prevent Child AbuseGo To Church. The message is very versatile. "Prevent AlcoholismGo To Church and so on.
Now, granted I am so thankful for those young families that do bring their children on Sunday Morning. What a blessing they are. Children and babies get so much love while they are at church. The parents do too.
But, then they don't come back until the next Sunday morning. They miss so much by not coming to Training Union, (as we Baptist call it) and Sunday school. Wednesday night service is like a pit stop in a NASCAR race. You come in for one hour, fill up, get your heart checked and then get back in the race until Sunday. Perfect timing.
Then there are those that do not come to church at all. Last Sunday on our way to church I saw a small girl probably 6 years old riding a bicycle in the yard. No one else was around. She obviously was not going to be in Sunday school or church. She looked so lonesome and sad. I just wanted to stop and pick her up and take her to church with us. Children are always happy at church. I am praying that next Sunday when I pass her house I hope to see that little girl's family all dressed up and getting in their car to go to church.
The question remains what are we as Christians willing to do to rescue the wanderers?
Like the 99 sheep that the shepherd left to go find the one. I doubt he found the lost one standing out in the middle of a grassy meadow. He may have had to climb up steep and dangerous slopes to get to the sheep. He may have found the sheep in trouble, tangled in the brush and briars.
The wanderers may have once been active in church, maybe the joined the church. When someone joins a church they are usually very serious about it. They have prayed about it and very seldom do people join on a whim. So, when people join the church the church should get to know them as quickly as they can. Every member of the church should make it their mission to get to know every new member
When a fellow church member wandersit is the church's responsibility to go after them. It is the responsibility of every Christian to tell the wanderers those 5 little words. We miss you at church.
Sometimes finding those who have gone astray requires more than a card in the mail. We cannot just sit back in our padded pews and hope and pray that they come back to church. We won't find them there. We have to be pro-active and go where they are to talk to them. If we can't do it ourselves, at least we can find someone who can.
If we have enough love in our heart for them to seek them out that might be all it takes to bring them back. It might be all it takes to save a soul from death by pointing them to Jesus. It is that important.
They should see nothing less than love from us. The love of the church, the love of Jesus can overcome the sin which otherwise would destroy the person. It may not happen immediately but the seed has been planted.
When love overcomes and brings a wanderer back they go no further into sin. The sin is gone by the love that dealt with it. The sin disappears and is swallowed up by the love. This love then has covered a multitude of sins.
So, I think what James is saying here is that when a brother or sister wanders away it is our job to go get them. Some may say, "It is the Pastor's job." Yes, that is true. It is the Pastor's job, and yours too.
Go to them with massive amounts of love in your heart. Tell them that you love them and do what ever you can to help them and bring them back into the fold. Blessings will follow.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your servant James who was inspired to write these words to us. Help us to apply this Word to our lives so that no one is left behind. In Your Holy Name I pray, Amen.
Angela Posey-Arnold is 47 years old. She is a writer, published author and the resident pianist at her church. She lives in beautiful north Alabama in a log cabin on the edge of the Bankhead National Forest. Peaceful surroundings are conducive to writing and music to which she devotes her life.