Message: If we are not passionate about finding the lost there is probably something deeper going on inside of us.
Command: Go and find the lost! Search for them with priority and urgency!
Promise: God celebrates every time a lost son is found.
Warning: When we have been saved for a long time, we can become so immersed into our own lives and our own journeys that we are no longer thinking about the lost. We know they are there, but we don’t feel the urgency to find them. Why is that?
Application: As I read about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son I felt the familiarity of it all weighing on me so much that I had to stop and ask God to please show me something new in this. I have heard so many teachings on this from the perspective of the son, the father and even the older brother. I have placed myself in these different roles and I just felt like there had to be something else to pull from this. When I went back through chapter 15 I took notice of what caused Jesus to share these three parables. Chapter 15 begins by telling us that all the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen, and the Pharisees and scribes were complaining “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” I had to back up just a bit more to reel in the context and I realized that Jesus had just finished sharing the parable of the feast where he was saying that the originally chosen invited guests (the Jews) refused to attend the feast and the master was inviting in everyone else (the Gentiles). He had just finished telling them to count the cost and understand that salvation requires complete surrender, and this is where the sinners and tax collectors were leaning in to hear more. The Jews had been exclusively God’s chosen people for so long that they seemed to take for granted that they were just “in” because of who they were. Although they were adamantly opposing and rejecting everything Jesus was speaking about, they were not happy that Jesus was reaching out to the lost and the lost were responding. As I thought back to the “older brother” in the prodigal story it occurred to me that his unhappiness with the celebration was much deeper than the jealousy that he had worked so faithfully, and his rebellious brother was now being celebrated. It seemed he was not at all concerned about his lost brother. He resented the fact that he was there being faithful and unhappy while his brother was out living a life that he couldn’t. This is the unhappiness of living an obligated life of religion. There are miserable Christians all over that are unable to even care about the lost because they themselves are living a life of obligation. This exposes the “count the cost” message and reveals that desire to satisfy our own flesh so much that we could actually resent the lost for their so-called freedom to live in sin. We can’t care about the lost if we resent the lost and we need to address the problem within our own hearts if we haven’t counted the cost and truly found joy in our surrender. Our compassion for the lost can be measured by the joy in our surrender.