As we look forward to 2016, we must remember that the goal of the Christian life is that God’s glory would cover every square inch of the earth. We accomplish this by teaching every creature to obey everything that God has commanded. Because this goal is so monumental, we must establish a deep, firm foundation that will stand the test of time and enable our church to bring glory to Christ for many generations to come. From Matthew 18, we see four goals for the coming year that will help our church move forward for Christ and His kingdom.
100% of the sheep accounted for
Jesus taught us to stop everything until all sheep are accounted for. We must find every wayward member of our church and see them restored. How can God bless us with more sheep if we do not take care of the ones He has already given us? Growth is not a revolving door. You can only fill a bucket after you have plugged all the holes. Until we have 100% of the sheep accounted for, we cannot expect God to entrust us with more.
100% of the sheep holding each other accountable
The process of restoring sheep is done by the individual members of the church and the church as a whole. It is not the duty of only the elders or deacons to seek out lost sheep; rather, it is the duty of each sheep to hold each other accountable. We cannot look to others to reach out to our wayward sheep. We must assume the responsibility for them ourselves.
Also, when a member of the church is removed because of unrepentant sin, it is only effective if 100% of the sheep stand in opposition to the sin. When a few members side with the unrepentant sinner, it nullifies the restorative power of church discipline. In essence, it shows that some people in the church are completely ok with unrepentant sin.
100% of the sheep unified
Jesus did not leave thousands of followers, but the ones that He did leave behind were 100% unified. We will never truly impact our community with people who refuse to forgive or reconcile with others. We must follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and seek reconciliation without delay. We must have open lines of communication and discuss openly all things so that we can be unified.
100% of the sheep participating
At the beginning of the passage, Jesus says to not despise the little ones. Sometimes we can come to think that someone else, or even ourselves, are not necessary for the success of the Church. However, each member, no matter how insignificant, is essential for the progress of the church. Each one must seek his or her place in advancing the Kingdom.
Who will you try to restore? Who will you hold accountable? Who will you seek reconciliation with? How will you serve Christ?