The Lost Sheep
By: Catherine Girgis
Have you ever felt a little out of place in social situations? Just standing there awkwardly, hoping someone will involve you in a conversation. If this is you, know that you are not alone. Although our church is filled with wonderful youth, sometimes it’s hard to fit in. You wonder whether they will even notice if you’re there or not; but this is your first mistake.
The reason for our presence in church is often lost amongst all the social aspects.
Is there ever a time where you have skipped the mass and come to church after, just to hang out with friends or attend an outing?
Ever skipped the talk at youth meeting and come for the gathering?
Many of us are guilty of forgetting the real reason we come to church – to communicate with our heavenly Father, and to gain insight into the life we should be living. If this were the real reason we were coming to church, then no matter how hard it can be to feel unwanted, we would still stay because we know we are wanted by the Lord.
Have you noticed someone just disappear from the church community? Someone you barely see anymore? Now I urge you to think, did this person ever seem uncomfortable or unwelcome? I am asking this not because I expect you to be always focusing on how others feel (although this is something we should always be aiming for) but because when people become distant, there is quite often a reason which they were trying to share but you may have missed the signs completely.
A lot of people like to play the blame game as to why these people have strayed, but the important thing to note, is that as Christians we are called to search for the lost sheep, not place blame for why they are lost in the first place. If we are being totally honest with ourselves, there are two parties to blame for our youth going astray – us and them.
I know how difficult it can be to feel left out and unwanted, but this is where we are blinded by the world.
We are never truly left out or unwanted in church because it is the house of God – the One and Only who is always seeking you out, who will never make you feel like a burden or unwanted, but quite the opposite.
He so desperately wants us and yet we, when we feel left out among our earthly friends, leave the only One who we truly know always wants our company, by avoiding the church completely. Look at it this way, when you love a group of people and you don’t feel this love back, it hurts. But this is what we are always doing to our Heavenly Father – no matter how great we may think we are, we are human. We sin, and sin is both unloving and rejecting of the love we most definitely don’t deserve.
I urge you, no matter how left out you feel to come to Christ and you will feel a love like no other – one that never fades. No matter how unchristian you may think the Christians around you are, come to Christ for He is perfect and the One we should be aiming for.
To those of you who feel comfortable in the social life of the church, this is a blessing which you should not take for granted, but I ask you this – do you think Christ would be happy that you are the stumbling block which leads people astray?
This may seem harsh to say but if we are being truthful, most of the time this is the case. I know it seems unreasonable to always be worrying about who is left out and who feels unwelcome, but this is precisely what Christ wants us to do. I can guarantee you it will be much more enjoyable to be in the company of friends; but we are we really called to live a life of comfort, or rather a life of sacrifice?
I tell you this not so that you serve without love, because if you serve without love it would be better not to serve at all. People who initially feel left out, will not feel more welcome but rather more of a burden, if we serve without love. I urge you instead to truly show interest in this person, and truly try to make them feel comfortable. Introduce them to others, include them in your conversations – after all Christ came for the sick, and we must follow in His footsteps and truly serve those in need.
So if you are feeling excluded – pray that the Lord may give you the comfort of His inclusive family, and that you may feel His love always. And if you feel included – pray that the Lord may give you the wisdom to be able to serve those who don’t, so that you may partake in His world, and truly be a part of His family.
Glory be to God, Amen