My directional ability is something of a running joke in our house. Whenever we hop in the family truckster to head somewhere new, even if the place is just a few miles from home, I expect the same question from at least one of the kids in the backseat:
“Dad, do you know where you’re going?”
This question will be inevitably followed by a second question:
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?”
Which will then be followed by yet another question:
“Did you put in the address on your phone?”
It’s fine. Really it is. Because their questions are born from experience. These kids have been in countless 4-point turnarounds on streets and U-turns at intersections when their father has realized he’s going the wrong way. So in a sense, they are just being proactive with their inquisition.
But I know this about myself. I know that I’m not great at finding my way. See, being lost is no fun, but at least when I’m lost I know I’m lost. There is another kind of lostness, though, that is not only not fun, but actually dangerous.
That’s confident lostness.
In Luke 17, the Pharisees came to Jesus asking a straight forward question about the timing of God’s kingdom. They wanted to know when it would come. Jesus answered their question by pointing out their fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the kingdom they were looking for. Jesus told them that the kingdom would not be observable, as in a political rule, but instead the kingdom was already in their midst. So the kingdom was present, but it was also still to come in its fullness.
Jesus held up two Old Testament stories to illustrate the suddenness of the kingdom coming to its full fruition:
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: People went on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).
What do these stories Jesus brings up have in common? The obliviousness of the people in them. They were lost, but they had no idea the extent of their lostness. They were in the throws of a confident lostness, and that makes lostness all the more devastating and dangerous.
This is how we all lived, at one point or another. Lost, without hope, dead in our sins and transgressions. But to make the situation even worse, we were confident that we were not, in fact, lost. This truth serves to highlight the greatness of the gospel, for in His mercy, God awakened us to our helpless state, and then rescued us from it.
Rejoice in that fact today, friends. But in that joy, do not be surprised at the world around us that is so confident. That confidence is not a measure of truth; it is instead a signpost for true lostness. And let us pray together that one by one God would do what He did for us for our friends and neighbors – that they, too, would become “lost aware” and turn to Jesus, for in Him is the only way that any of us might be “found.”