Today’s readings in Luke 15 are familiar stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (better known as the “prodigal” son). In each case, great joy erupts when the lost is found.
I was struck by the concluding verses of the first two stories:
…I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance… …I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15: 7, 10
Heaven and the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents and turns to faith in God. Sinners (that’s all of us) were lost from heaven and God.
That’s how much heaven and the angels care about the lost: they rejoice!
The lost son’s father points out that this isn’t just a matter of finding the lost, but of bringing the dead back to life:
‘It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ Luke 15: 32
So, I work for a ministry dedicated to sharing the Gospel. We teach people how to talk about Jesus, how to introduce them to the God of the Universe.
But the last time I personally shared the Gospel in a comprehensive way with a friend was a few years ago.
I’m surrounded by Christians at work.
But that’s no excuse.
If all of heaven and its angels look down and REJOICE at one person brought from death to life, then what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I care more for the lost, the “walking dead?” Why do I move through life with sunglasses on, not noticing people all around me who are lost.
Well, I’m aware that my concern level needs to rise, so I’ve been praying for my own heart to revive. We pray for our building neighbors at work. I pray for the neighbors where I live – and for one in particular – but have yet to speak with her more deeply about spiritual things or to start an investigative Bible study in my cul de sac.
But I’m praying.
And God’s starting to answer.
I drove my daughter to a soccer tournament this weekend and was struck on the way there that I’ve never really deliberately tried to get to know the other parents for the purpose of sharing the Gospel. I only know the name of one mom – and that’s because we have a carpool.
Frankly, I wouldn’t choose soccer moms to me my mission field. But there they are, my Jerusalem (see Acts 1:8).
So, I started to pray for open doors and found myself in two fairly deep conversations over the course of the weekend (and I also found myself sinning, as I discussed here – could that be a bit of spiritual warfare?). Now I just have to learn their names!
If heaven rejoices over a lost soul that’s found, I should put a bit more effort into helping find the lost.
Not just through those we train in my ministry.
Dear Lord: Help me be more aware of the walking dead and give me a much greater burden to tell them about You. Then help me open my mouth and do it! Give me opportunities I can’t avoid. Then let me rejoice along with heaven that the lost has been found, the dead lives! Amen