The parable of the lost sheep speaks to the challenge of living right. Personal righteousness was a central theme to Scribes and Pharisees. Lost sheep were those who did not follow the leader and stay with the flock. They disobeyed the rules of good sheep:
1. Sheep need to listen to shepherd’s voice and follow
2. Sheep have a communal flock instinct. Sheep that are ill might wander away
When someone distances him/herself from the faith community, it is usually for similar reasons. They have had poor leadership in their life or lacked respect for shepherds in general. Wanderers let the sickness of soul lead them away instead of letting a good shepherd restore them to health, bind their wounds or accommodate for their weakness.
So we may easily blame sheep for wandering away. But that is not the moral of the story. The heart of God searches for the wanderers and brings them home, fully aware that the sheep is sick, wounded or foolish. The Shepherd values every lamb and knows each weakness.
How is your connection to the Shepherd and the flock? I am deeply concerned when I see someone sidetracked by overpowering temptations. Addiction comes easy as the ultimate disconnect from community.
People will sometimes say that drugs or alcohol make them feel spiritual. The truth is that it is a mirage. Getting high is the opposite of fasting and prayer.
Have you drifted away? The Shepherd knows your nature and is searching for you. You are supposed to return home and not die alone in the wilderness.