(September 9, 2018) Ed Delph shares another timely thought-provoker…
One of the most famous stories in the Bible is Luke 15. Although generally known as ‘the prodigal son chapter’ it is about putting three lost things back into circulation. It’s about…
- A restoration of dignity and purpose.
- Lost people getting back to the main road again after lengthy delays and detours.
- How God’s compassion never gives up.
- Seeing the essence of a person, not just the behaviour of a person.
- Having the love to accept people for who they are but not letting them under achieve perpetually.
Lost… and without a good future
The chapter starts with Jesus talking to a crowd of people about a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son… being lost they had no future.
There were two groups of people in the crowd. One was a group called tax gatherers and sinners and the other called the Pharisees and scribes.
The tax gatherers and sinners came to listen to Jesus. The other group came to judge him and grumble about the crowd which came to hear him.
This latter group had forgotten that every ‘sinner’ has a future, every saint has a past.
Case Study A – the lost sheep
Jesus used an example of a shepherd that had 100 sheep but one of them got lost. He tells of how the shepherd would get a babysitter for the rest of the sheep and goes after the one who is lost.
After he finds it, the shepherd doesn’t condemn the sheep for being lost but lays it on his shoulder and brings it back into the fold. He then rejoices with his friends that his sheep is found!
That is a picture of Jesus as the one who seeks and saves the lost. He put the lost sheep back into circulation.
Case Study B – lady who had lost a coin
Her coin was still there in her home but hidden in darkness and possibly covered with dirt. What did that lady do? She lit a lamp and swept the floor until she found her precious lost coin. Then she too rejoiced with friends!
That is a picture of the Holy Spirit who finds ‘lost coins’ – lost believers, precious to God – when we are swept into dark corners. He reveals what is hidden and puts lost coins back into circulation.
Case Study C – story of the prodigal son
The story revolves around a son who had everything. However, he was immature, felt he knew everything and what he didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. He demanded his inheritance and his father gave it to him. He went out into the far away countries of self-gratification and self-actualisation.
You know the story. It didn’t work out (it never does!) and it didn’t take long until he was living worse than a pig.
The Bible says the prodigal son finally came to his senses and returned to his father. Guilt didn’t bring him home. His father’s love brought him home; he knew his father’s love was far greater than any youthful miscue he could do.
Thank God for such famines… without them, many a prodigal would never come home. This parable is a picture of God who receives us with joy in spite of our shortcomings – if we will turn again to him and come home. You see, grace recognises consequences but refuses abandonment.
So, there you have it, lost and found… Think in terms of the Son who saves, the Holy Spirit who reveals and the Father who receives!
God wants to do is put your back into circulation!
Lost sheep, lost coins and lost sons get uncovered, discovered and recovered. They get back to the future that God still has for them.
‘Finding Nemo’ is nothing compared to finding you and me!
Dr Ed Delph is president of Nationstrategy, an organisation with the strategy of envisioning and empowering today’s leaders in the church to be some of tomorrow’s leaders in the community. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.nationstrategy.com