Will the Father ever shun His children? ∙
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. – Psalms 86:5
18 Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.
19 Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised . . .
Shunning is to deliberately avoid someone. It is an act of social rejection and abandonment. Often it includes renouncing and separating. All social interaction with a shunned individual is cut off. Shunning is not the same as banishment. Banishment or exile is physical isolation or separation. Shunning is social isolation. Shunning is the consequence of violating accepted rules and standards.
Historically the Amish employ shunning for the most serious and egregious offenses. These include marrying a non-Amish person, adultery, excessive contact with the outside world, and drunkenness.
Will the Father ever shun His children? Can a sheep that belongs to the Father’s flock exhaust His patience? Absolutely not! The heart of the Father is infinite in mercy, patience, and kindness! Infinite mercy can never be exhausted! In response to sin, His lovingkindness and grace overflow and burst forth.
Romans 5:20 as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I am the worst sinner that ever lived? Well, you are not! That position has already been filled! The worst person that ever lived was the apostle, Paul. That sounds outrageous. But Paul is the one that said it about himself. His words were enthused by the Father. Our self-rejection is driven by our guilt and discouragement
1 Timothy 1:15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all.
Further, Paul unequivocally explains that if anyone could have exhausted the Father’s patience and deserved to be shunned by the Father it was Paul himself
1 Timothy 1:14-16
14 The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
REFLECT & PRAY
Isaiah 53:6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Father thank You that You are infinitely patient and forgiving. Your response to my sin, defiance, and rebellion is to seek to lovingly restore me.
Have you ever wondered why sheep were created? The Father made them to serve as object lessons, living letters. Sheep are among the most helpless and needy of all creatures. They easily get lost and fall victim to predators. They have difficulty finding water and food. They are in desperate need of a shepherd.
The Father created sheep as the perfect example of the way people behave. We are constantly going astray. Repeatedly making dumb decisions. Without the love and care truly excellent and caring shepherd we would be doomed.
The Father provided the perfect answer.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
4 What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
It is only when we realize that we are indeed lost sheep in dire straits because of our foolish decisions and stubborn hearts that we recognize our need for the Good Shepherd. Lost sheep are in danger. The shepherd is responsible to find them and bring them safely home.
The Father takes great joy and feels great excitement in re-establishing a close bond with His wandering creations (Stanley).
What is the Father like? What kind of a person is He? He shows us time and time again the essence of His heart in words, deeds, and examples throughout the Scriptures. Knowing and understanding His character and personality provide great solace to ornery, troubled sheep. The Father is not an angry old man out to get us. Rather, He is a gracious loving shepherd seeking out, rounding up, and restoring each of His wayward sheep. He is the ultimate Good Shepherd. He wants only the best for each of those who belong to Him.
In the first century, many flocks were communal flocks. They did not belong to individuals but rather entire villages. Typically there were two or three shepherds who cared for the sheep. When a shepherd did not come home with the flock, he was often out searching for a sheep that had gone astray. This became a matter of concern for the whole village and they would watch and wait for the outcome. When the shepherd returned with the lost sheep laying upon his shoulders, it was a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the entire village.
“That is the picture Jesus drew of God; that, said Jesus, is what God is like. God is as glad when a lost sinner is found as a shepherd is when a strayed sheep is brought home. As a great saint said, ‘God, too, knows the joy of finding things that have gone lost’” (Barclay).
First-century religious people were often stern and harsh. They would simply shun and disparage those they thought beneath them such as tax collectors and the sinners. Rather than seeking to redeem them, they longed for their destruction. But the point of the story of the lost sheep is that the Father is far kinder than people. People give up on people, but the Father does not. Of course, the Father loves those that do not stray. “But in his heart, there is the joy of joys when a lost one is found and comes home” (Barclay).
Luke 15:32 He was lost, but now he is found!