We’ll today we come to the last chapter of John and the last day of our prayer and fasting. By the time you read this, I and the team will be in Panama. I’ll continue to blog from there but there will be some gaps because we will be in areas where I won’t be able to get anything out. Here in chapter twenty one is a section of scripture that the Lord used several years ago to teach me a powerful truth about the church.
Let me set the stage. In the church world today there are those who are doing a style of church designed to target a specific age group. When asked about what they are doing and why, I have heard them say many times that their church, “isn’t for everyone” or that they are only going after the young.
Can I be so bold as to say that I don’t agree with this thinking? I honestly don’t believe that this is the sort of thing that Jesus intended in the scriptures, because of something in this chapter. Notice with me, verses fifteen through seventeen.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
What I want you to notice is the fact that Jesus changes something each of the three times he questions Peter. The first time Jesus mentions “feeding” his lambs. The second time he mentions “taking care” of his sheep. The third time Jesus tells Peter to “feed his sheep”. What do I think is significant here? The church is made up of both lambs and sheep, young and old; and we ministers are to both care for and feed those people.
My firm conviction is that every local congregation can only be healthy if it has the whole range of both physical and spiritual ages. There is great strength when you combine the wisdom of age with the energy of youth. We are often called the “body” of Christ. We are literally his hands and feet in this world. As such we need the variety and diversity that is lost if we become any single group. Like a family, I believe that we were intended by God to exist together with young and old loving and blessing each other.
I don’t mind bragging on the church that I pastor. Abundant Life Community Church in Alton and Wood River are the best example of this that I have ever found. It’s a place where lambs and sheep worship, serve, grow, and live together. We don’t struggle over styles of decor or music. Rather, there is a culture of missions and purpose and a divine sense of God’s calling upon us to reach the world. It’s an incredible place to serve! Why? Because it’s a great flock of sheep!