I know all of us have certain items that we are concerned about, and if we “lose” them we start to panic. For those who need glasses, and cannot find them, it is a struggle to see. Those who have hearing aids and cannot hear – the same. Losing (misplacing) the keys to the car and the house; or losing something that a family member gave to us that we cherish is a struggle.
Losing a loved one is a bigger blow that many struggle with for the rest of their lives.
BUT LOSING OUR ETERNAL SOULS IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN. The punishment of being separated from God throughout eternity is something we cannot imagine, for all of our blessings and joys come from a relationship with God. God honors our choices and we bear the consequences.
Luke 15 tells us of three kinds of “lostness” – the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boy. What can we learn from these?
THE LOST SHEEP are those that are outside of Christ; who are not members of Christ’s body, the church. The shepherd leaves the 99 and goes to look for the one sheep that is lost. This shows the value of one soul to our Lord. In every place we know many are outside of the fold, and God wants us, the saved, to do what we can to bring the lost sheep to him. Sometimes a sheep can get so wild they will not be brought back to the fold, but the Shepherd will do all he can to bring it back because it is valuable to him. Beloved, every soul is precious to God. He is not willing that any should perish. Am I doing what I can to reach these? Are you doing what you can to share the hope of the gospel with others? Remember, we do not convert anyone – we just preach the gospel and let them make the choice.
In Luke 14:12-24 we see the parable of the Great Banquet. Jesus tells the hearers “. . . not to invite friends or brothers, relatives or rich neighbors, lest they invite you in return and you be repaid.” He then tells them to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind – those who cannot repay you. God will repay you. “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” We are to go out and search for the lost. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-16). If the ones invited makes excuses, they will not be able to enjoy the feast, and their fellowship with God. THIS PARABLE makes it clear that we offer them the choice to come – if they choose not to, then they will not be able to sit at table with the Lord. They will not enjoy the fellowship with God and others.
THE LOST COIN – PEOPLE INSIDE THE CHURCH (Luke 15:8-10). The coin has not gone anywhere. It was lost while it was still in the house. Jesus spoke about those who were lukewarm, and he states, “I am about to spit (other versions – vomit) you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:17). It is sad that one may think they are saved, but find out they will be forever separated from God because of indifference. Some in the church think if they attend worship services, that is all they need to do. Being a Christian suggests an ongoing relationship with Jesus, not just on Sunday, but every day. We need to listen to Him and His word. We need to pray and talk with our Father everyday (relationships suggest communication). These need to be revived by the gospel.
THE LOST BOY – THOSE WHO WERE ONCE MEMBERS BUT HAVE LEFT FOR THE WORLD (Luke 15:11-32). The Father made the house so attractive that the boy wanted to come back. There is a need for us, in the church, to be so warm, loving, caring and the like, that when one is in the world, he misses the fellowship of the church. Those in the world are going to find ultimately what the prodigal discovered. “It’s not what it’s cracked up to be.” And when they do, we must be ready to let God’s love flow out to them so they can be reclaimed for Christ.
Dick Marcear, via Forrest Park Church of Christ Valdosta, GA.