In the first two parables, we have a picture of God who actively seeks that which is lost. In both cases the thing that was lost had to be sought after with great effort. The shepherd didn’t wait for the lost sheep to wander home and the woman didn’t sit around and wait for the lost coin to turn up. In our Christian lives, and in the church, it sometimes seems that we do the opposite. We tend to wait for the lost to come to us. We’re passive rather than active. We’re waiting for people to come to Christ instead of putting effort into bringing them to Christ! I know that I have been guilty of doing this. I want people to be saved but I haven’t gone out searching for the lost with great effort. We need to seek out those who have wandered away.
In the third story, we see God as the father who watched and waited for his son to come to his senses and realize that you reap what you sow…Yet the father’s love and patience were coupled with a readiness to forgive.
The sheep perhaps foolishly wandered away. The coin was perhaps lost because of negligence; and the sons were lost because of selfishness and rebellion. The great love that God has for all people – seeks – forgives – and saves – no matter who they are or why they are lost!
Just a couple of chapters later in Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells a story of two men who went to the temple to pray; one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. In verse 9 of that passage it says; “To those who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable”;
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I guess the real message is really one we have heard before, but bears repeating…and must always be on our minds, that is, we must never think that we belong to some exclusive club of wonderful people, who get together on Sundays to celebrate the fact that we are “not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector”… But rather, that we would beat our breast and say; “God have mercy on me, a sinner!”
Jesus pointed out that the one thing that matters most to God is the lost. They matter so much to God that when the lost are found, even only one of them, “all of heaven rejoices”.
If we then, are to become Christlike, we are to seek out those who have wandered away; we are to look for the one who is lost; and we are to watch and wait patiently for those who have rebelled and gone their own way. And, we are to rejoice with all of heaven over one who repents and “comes home”.
The love of God can defeat the foolishness of man in wandering away, it did for me…. The love of God can overcome the indifference and neglect of others, it did for me…. and the love of God can certainly forgive the deliberate rebellion of man… it did for me!
I want to ask a rather bold and thought provoking question; Is there anyone in your community who is not good enough to be a part of your church?…If someone popped into your mind – for whatever reason – I want you to jot their name down. Is there someone out there that you just don’t like or can’t get along with for some reason?…Jot their name down. Is there someone you would never think of witnessing to because of their occupation or their lifestyle or their background?…Just jot their name down. Is there a friend or neighbor or co-worker or maybe even a family member that you would like to see come to know the Lord and join a church? Then, jot their name down.
Next week I will tell you why I have planted these little seed thoughts in your mind;