Tax collectors and sinners were all crowding around to listen to Jesus.2 So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses started grumbling, â€œThis man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them.â€
4 If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Wonâ€™t you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? 5 And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder 6 and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, â€œLetâ€™s celebrate! Iâ€™ve found my lost sheep.â€
I hope many people heard a good word on this passage of Scripture in their fellowships yesterday. It is a passage like John 3:16 that should be taught more than once a year. Reaching out to the lost, looking for them, finding them, and leading them to God is what we as disciples of Jesus Christ are about. If we are not celebrating the return of one who has been lost every week, then we aren’t â€œabout our Father’s businessâ€ because there are certainly many lost souls out there.
I submit to you that there are many who believe that Jesus the Son of God came to die for their sins and yet they are lost in this world. They are confused, hurt, and struggling with addictions, looking for love in all the wrong people, and are unable to make that turn to trust God with their lives. And we are waiting for them to find their way into the door of the church instead of going to look for them and carry them home on our shoulders.
We do not have to be evangelists to be a seeker of those who are lost. We just need to be a friend. Hold out our hand-:
- pray for that person and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and theirs
- give the person a call and listen, don’t preach
- offer to pray with them and ask God to bless them, may it be a prayer of grace not condemnation
- trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to invite them to dinner or to church, make sure you are on His agenda, not yours
- and when they come home to God, remember that He did all the work and that they are His disciple not yours
We do not celebrate the choice of the lost to come home but instead seem to look at them cross-eyed as if to ask, â€œWhat took you so long? Couldn’t you see what dumb choices you were making?â€ Oh, my brothers and sisters, God hates pride and self-righteousness! He will humble us!
Jesus went out into the streets and homes to find the lost. He did not put up clever signs and billboards to lead them to the Father. He took them in His arms and carried them. A lost soul is a hurting, limping, weak soul. They need loving, strong arms to help them make that journey back. They need calm, comforting words that are soothing to their battered spirits.
Father, open our eyes and hearts by the power of Your Spirit. May we look with compassion on the lost souls we know. Teach us how to gather them in our arms and carry them home to You just as Jesus did. Send Your healing rain to our town, our neighborhood, today. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Healing Rain written and sung by Michael W. Smith