by Rob Tims
When was the last time you lost something valuable?
When I posed this question to a Bible study class recently, one of the members told the story of a mouse stealing medication and a hearing aid from his spouse, while another told the story of losing his friend in the wilderness of Montana, in a river, and in Wal-Mart!
Whatever happened to just losing your keys or wallet or retainer?
Though losing something valuable is an experience pretty much anyone can relate to, technological advances may soon make “lostness” something we may never experience again. GPS, Tile, and features like “Find My Phone” are pretty incredible for absent-minded professor-types like myself who have thrown their van keys in the trash without knowing it.
But until that time when there’s no excuse for being lost or losing something, Jesus’ first two parables in Luke 15:1-10 still resonate.
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
This parable powerfully portrays the value God places on those who don’t share his values. This posture of gracious pursuit stands in stark contrast to the separatist Pharisees who refused to associate with any such “sinners” in the name of honoring the Lord through personal holiness.
Can you believe it? Can you believe that God’s posture towards sinners is one in which He diligently pursues them for His joy? If so, you will have joy yourself, and will mirror this same posture to the lost.
You will value those who do not share your core values.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.