Quest for Hope
Valuable to God 3-18-16
Yesterday, we read a great passage quoting Jesus about counting the cost of discipleship and remaining committed to his passion to redeem all of humanity. Today, we will invest time on our quest for hope in reading about the parable of the Lost Sheep.
Luke 15:1-7 (NLT)
Parable of the Lost Sheep
15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
We can all relate to losing things. Yesterday, my husband, John, temporarily lost his wallet. We have both been running from one important thing to another—at the church, in our dental practice, and at home preparing for a wedding—he forgot where he placed his wallet and we retraced his steps over and over again until we found it last night. Yes, our hearts rejoiced when we found it! Why? It matters to John; it is valuable to him and I had an opportunity to be a part of helping him find it.
You are valuable to God. Jesus tells a story using a shepherd’s heart for a lost sheep to express how every person matters to God; every heart is valuable. In the story, the shepherd is willing to leave the ninety-nine sheep who are safely under his care, to go find the one who is lost and bring it back.
During our Wednesday evening worship time, we talked about the meaning of a verse in a passage we were studying about Jesus being the Narrow Gate in John 10:9: “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. My sweet sister in Christ, Sharon, essentially asked, “What does it mean ‘they will come and go freely and will find good pastures?’” I have been meditating on that passage further and in my time of study I believe today’s parable answers that question.
To come in through the Gate is to come to God through the redeeming work of Jesus who is the Living Word. For those in the care of the Good Shepherd, we gather and grow (apply it to our lives) as we listen to the Word of God revealed in Christ. Believers in Christ’s redemptive work live in two realms: the world and the kingdom of heaven. God desires to bring those two realms together; on earth as it is in heaven. So, he sends those who desire to be used by God (kingdom mission assignment on earth) out to find others who are lost or separated from God’s love and care (example of the one lost sheep). Note: while we are seeking the lost, we cannot allow ourselves to be tainted with the world’s ways or we will not be effective as representatives for the kingdom. We are to bring the lost back to the Shepherd, so they can enter a relationship with God through his Word and learn the truth of his love for them. We are charged with letting others know through our compassion and caring just how valuable they are to God. As we grow in our understanding of God’s love and grace, we gain more and more ‘holy assignments’ to go out and bring in others. As we remain pliable and usable in God’s hands to embrace each assignment, God celebrates us with his glory. We are truly valuable to God and the work of his kingdom. But, please don’t miss this part in Jesus’ parable; all of heaven rejoices when a truly lost soul is found and brought into the security of the kingdom. Those who remain connected to Christ should celebrate and rejoice with our Shepherd, as well. Making more connections pleases God.
Prayer: Lord, you call all of your followers to participate in gathering back to your care every human heart because each one is valuable to you. Help me to flow in the power of your grace, so I can be your hands and feet to find the lost each day who are looking for Hope and carry their hearts back to you. Let my words resonate your love for all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.