1Tax collectors and sinners were approaching him and listening to him. 2So the Pharisees complained. They said, “This guy receives sinners and eats with them.” 3But Jesus told them this parable. 4“What one of you, if he had 100 sheep and lost one, would not leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after the lost one until he found it? 5And when he found it, he’d put it on his shoulders and rejoice! 6When he got home he would call his friends and his neighbors and say to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7I tell you that’s the kind of joy there is in heaven about one sinner who repents rather than over 99 righteous folks who don’t need to repent.
8Or what woman who has 10 Drachmas and loses one of them does not light a lamp and sweep her house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my Drachma that I lost.’ 10In this way, I tell you, there will be joy before God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” — Luke 15:1-10
Last night Jody and I discussed yesterday’s devotional. She said she wanted to answer my question about why she loved God.
â€œIt’s because he is faithful,â€ she said. â€œWhatever has happened in my life he has always been there. I can be angry at God and turn away from him, yet when I turn back, there he is with his arms out. That’s what connects the heroes at the end. They were all faithful wherever they were.â€
I immediately connected what she said with this text, which I had been reading this week for a study group. Now I’m going to take a brief detour about that connection. I started last week attending Rev. Geoffrey Lentz’s (First United Methodist Church, Pensacola). I know a bunch of you on this list know Geoffrey personally, but I’m giving the details for the rest. Geoffrey mentioned last week the discipline that the lectionary provides to a preacher who might otherwise preach only on his favorite texts. Following the lectionary forces him to preach on things he might be less comfortable with. A similar discipline is needed in your devotional life. If you feel your devotional life is stuck in a rut, or you just want to put a new charge in it, consider following a program like the lectionary texts. You’ll be amazed at what you learn, and what those texts connect to in your life.
OK, back from the detour. We hear a great deal about seeking God, chasing after God, going after God, and various phrases like that. I think all of those things are good and Biblical. But there’s another side. I’m not going to say which is more important, because the Bible plainly teaches both. It teaches us to seek God, but it also tells us we seek God because he’s seeking us.
God is a God of redemption. Our human preference is for perfect people leading perfect lives without error. We like that so much that we often pretend that we are living that type of life. We expect our leaders to live that type of life. But Jesus doesn’t tell parables about hanging around with the people who have everything right. He tells parables about how faithful God is in seeking out those who need to redeem. As Jody said to me last night, when you turn back to God, he is right there waiting.
The only thing that can stop him is if you absolutely refuse to listen. He won’t stop seeking. He won’t stop calling to you. He doesn’t declare that it’s too late, until it really is too late, and you die and no longer have the option of changing.
God is a powerful God, a loving God, a redeeming God. Running through all of that is this: He is faithful in all things!