I had an interesting discussion with a young man last week. For awhile now, I’ve been working part-time at UPS. I have really enjoyed getting to meet and interact with such a diverse group of people. I’ve been chatting for some with a young man named Noah and his friend (his name escapes me right now). We’ve talked about their future plans, working for the “man”, the Lord’s moving in Zambia – and a host of other things.
This past week, the young name whose name I can’t remember, came up to me after his shift and told me that one of the girls at his work area asked him if he was saved. He began to recount for me the conversation that they had. I listened intently, praying that the Lord would give me wisdom in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. As he spoke, he said something that struck a nerve with me, “I’m the black sheep of the family.” Isn’t that an interesting phrase…the black sheep. He was acknowledging his non-conformity to the expectations of his family. The Holy Spirit was gracious in bringing to mind verses and an example from Scripture that I hope stuck (Lord willing, I’ll see him Wednesday night if you’d like to pray for him).
As I’ve meditated and prayed about our discussion and the gospel seed being sown, this phrase keeps coming back to my mind. Really, in terms of nearness to the kingdom of God, this young man is close. You see, if he thought of himself as the ‘white sheep’ in the family, the one who always does right and can do no wrong, oh – there would be so much he would need to understand about his own heart. The Pharisees, the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, would be those who considered themselves ‘white sheep’ – Jesus’ strongest rebukes were reserved for these men.
But with those who see their sin and have godly sorrow over it (Samaritan woman, prodigal son, the wee little man, etc), they are near to the kingdom of God. It is amazing to see the diversity by which God brings His children to Himself. For some, He completely strips away every last refuge in which we hide so that we have no choice but to look to Him. For others, He pinpoints their sin and gently exposes it to them such that they see it and cling to Christ quickly – saving them from a lifetime of heartbreak and soul anguish.
Within that diversity though, is striking similarity – we ALL must see our sin, we ALL must see ourselves as guilty before a holy and a just God and we ALL must place our hope in Jesus Christ and Him alone for our salvation. You see, we’re all black sheep – everyone of us. “We ALL, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). But blessedly, there is One who is white, even white as snow, and that One is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Do you know that One? If not, I encourage you – start by seeing yourself like my friend – as a black sheep – just like the rest of us. If you don’t think your wool is that dark – Read Exodus 20:1-17 – this is the Law of God that cannot be broken. If you’ve broken just one of those laws, the Bible says you’re guilty of breaking them all (James 2:10).
Once your sin becomes more than you can bear, look to the Lamb of God, that is Jesus Christ – who came and took upon Himself the sins of all of His sheep – that we might appear before God – pure and spotless – on the Day of Judgment.