I met Gary when we were both working with our local high school football team. He was a coach - I was the football. Actually, I was sort of an unofficial chaplain for the team. Gary's basically a happy guy, pretty laid back. Until they come up in the conversation. They are the men who were prisoners of war or missing in action in the Vietnam War. When it comes to the subject of the MIA's who have not been accounted for, Gary isn't laid back anymore. He becomes very intense, very serious. He is one of a number of veterans who are determined to do whatever they can to make sure we do everything we can to locate or account for those missing soldiers. I was at a flag-raising ceremony where Gary participated in uniform. The rallying point of the veterans there was that black flag - you may have seen it. It has the silhouette of a man's head on it - the words P.O.W. and MIA - and a stirring four-word motto - "You are not forgotten."
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The MIAs."
I got to thinking about some other MIA's the other day - when I got a call from a friend of mine. He told me he had been missing in action spiritually for a while. He said, "My wife and I got real busy, started using Sunday as a day just to sleep late and lay low, and we haven't been to church in a long time." They used to be real active. And they're back now. I'll tell you how that happened in a moment.
Our word for today from the Word of God though is from John 10. And beginning in verse 15, Jesus says, "I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also." Is Jesus content just to rest with the sheep that are already in? Never! There are still sheep He laid down His life for who are still missing in action.
My friend - the spiritual MIA - he told me he was at a basketball game and a man from their old church came up to him, put his arm around him, and said, "Tom, we really miss you. Why don't you come back to church?" Doesn't sound like much, does it? But that was all it took to make an MIA want to come home spiritually. I thank God for at least one man in that church who was out looking for the MIAs. Who reached out to one and said, "You are not forgotten."
The problem is most of us are so busy in our personal rat race - and sometimes so comfy in our Christian cocoon - that we do forget the ones who aren't home yet. But listen to the heart of Jesus - He's aching for those who are still out there lost. How much do the MIAs bother you?
It's so easy just to settle into our Christian routine, keep our busy Christian schedule, do all our Christian activities - and slowly but surely forget the people Jesus died for. We just get numb and complacent, forgetting that our Lord came "to seek and to save those who are lost" (Luke 19:10). We can't claim to be much of a follower of Jesus if we are not passionate about those who are lost, those who are dying, those He died for, those who are away. In the midst of enjoying all those who are already home, the heart of Jesus is out there with the people who aren't home.
An you know some of them. You know people who are spiritually missing in action. You know people who are spiritual prisoners of war. Do you care? Would you ask the Shepherd to break your heart for them? Would you get actively involved in going after them? Would you not let your fellow believers, your ministry, your church forget them?
Jesus has not forgotten the ones who aren't home yet. Please - don't you forget them.