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Searching For The Runaways

“Searching For The Runaways”

By:  Mark White

     Throughout this country, thousands of children are "on the streets", having left their homes in search of "freedom" from the restraints of parents, teachers, rules and regulations. Many of them are quite young, celebrating an eleventh or twelfth birthday "on their own." Parents and friends live in anguish not knowing the whereabouts of these children.

     Unsure whether their children are living or dead, these parents and friends endure tremendous agony as they seek them out and bring these children back home. Many of the children leave home because they feel unloved and unwanted. Others run away because they actually are not welcome at home, for one reason or another.

     Throughout the kingdom of God, thousands of God's children have turned back into the world, leaving the fold of God in search of "freedom" from God's demands. They are also running from the watchful eye of elders and other members of the family of God. These are spiritual runaways who have disassociated themselves from the body of Christ.

     It is nothing less than a terrible tragedy that so many members of the church have gone astray. Like sheep wandering away from the fold, they have placed themselves in great spiritual danger. 2 Peter 2:21-22 declares that a Christian who migrates back into the world is in an ugly predicament. "…the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'The dog returns to his own vomit', and 'The sow, that had washed to her wallowing in the mire.'" The Hebrews writer explains that those who do not endure, but draw back, do so to the condemnation of their own souls (Hebrews 10:26-39).

     Most every church has members who have "run away" from duty. They no longer attend, and if we are not careful, we may even forget they exist. Too often, we fail in our duty to "round up the strays." In some cases, a "runaway" might not even be missed for quite some time. Even after a year or more, someone may inquire "I wonder what ever happened John and Mary Doe? I never see them at a Bible class or worship anymore." What a shame! How pitiful when some of the sheep have jumped the fence and we are so busy we don't even take notice!

     Elders, as shepherds, do have primary responsibility to watch out for souls (Hebrews 13:17). But every faithful Christian is charged to "restore" those "overtaken in a fault" (Galatians 6:1).

     Perhaps a runaway is reading these lines. If so, please know that God still loves and cares for you. So do your brothers and sisters. We all want you to come home and take your place with the family.