Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14, 2009

"Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" Luke 15:3-4
In my previous post I decried the lack of urgeny over lost people. That is the point Jesus is trying to make in Luke 15.
So, we understand what lostness is, how does it happen?
How does a sheep get lost?

Have you ever thought about how sheep get lost? Even with a shepherd, they still get lost. How does this happen?
Sheep get lost through their nibbling.

As Joel Preston says: -Sheep are stubborn. Sheep can get easily lost because they tend to go their own way. Sheep get lost by nibbling away at the grass and never looking up.

The issue for sheep is their ability to stay focused. They see a nice patch of grass and think, “Mmm, this looks nice, maybe I’ll have a little taste.” They finish the bit of grass and without looking up, they move and continue grazing. They nibble a little here, then a little there. They take a few steps and nibble a little more. Before they realize it, they are lost. Sheep made a series of small choices that led them away from the flock.
A sheep gets lost by his nature.

The nature of a sheep is to get lost. It is in his DNA. It is like he has a lostness gene or something. That is a pretty sad situation. Sad, but true!

Why should we care about sheep? Why should sheep matter to us? They are stupid, stubborn and of little value.
WE ARE THE SHEEP! THIS STORY IS NOT REALLY ABOUT SHEEP IT IS ABOUT US. Everything that Jesus is pointing out about sheep in this story applies to us. This is how we get lost.

We nibble. It is in our nature to nibble our way into lostness. We nibble away at sin over here and we nibble at sin over there and with our focus on sin, we drift further away from the shepherd and the other sheep.

We have a sinful nature. It is in our DNA. We are born with a sinful nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve. So, we come into this world lost and separated from the Good Shepherd, Jesus. We aren't sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.
The urgency Jesus expresses in this story is precisely for this reason, people He loves and cares for are lost and will remain lost until reached by a shepherd.
If you are lost, or if you care about someone who is. What are you waiting for? How can you be casual about that risky condition? How will you face that lost friend in eternity and explain to them why you never tried to reach them? How will you explain that to the shepherd?

September 13, 2009

"Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" Luke 15:3-4
I believe that Jesus believes that we don't have enough concern for lost people. He challenges us in that area.
I can't only speak for myself and I must confess that I often lapse into a casual attitude toward lost people. I am found, my life is good, my future is secure, so my sense of urgency wanes. In fact, it should be just the opposite.
If you have ever been like me. If you have ever lost your urgency over the plight of people who are spiritually lost, Luke 15 is just what we need.
Jesus tells three stories that deal with the desparation of lost people and their value to Him. The first deals with a lost sheep. Let's see what we can learn about lostness.
There are not many things sheep do well. The one thing they are most known for is – GETTING LOST.

Philip Keller was a sheep rancher. In his book, "A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty-third Psalm," he says that sheep they require more attention than any other livestock. They just can’t take care of themselves. Unless their shepherd makes them move on, sheep will actually ruin a pasture, eating every blade of grass, until finally a fertile pasture is nothing but barren soil. Sheep are near-sighted & very stubborn, but easily frightened. An entire flock can be stampeded by a jack rabbit. They have little means of defense. They’re timid, feeble creatures. Their only recourse is to run if no shepherd is there to protect them. Sheep have no homing instincts. A dog, horse, cat, or a bird can find its way home, but when a sheep gets lost, it’s a goner unless someone rescues it.
Being lost means being out of relationship.

Because of their propensity for getting lost, the two things that sheep need most are: A SHEPHERD and OTHER SHEEP. They will not survive long without those two important things.

That is what happened in Jesus’ story. This sheep got separated from the care of the shepherd and the security of the other sheep. He did not know where he was, where he needed to be or how to get there.

Sheep are not worth much and a single lost sheep is even less valuable. Apparently the other 99 sheep didn’t even notice he was missing. Only the shepherd noticed and only the shepherd cared.

Even though the sheep was out of relationship with the flock and with the shepherd, the shepherd did not stop caring about the lost sheep.
Why should we care about sheep let alone a single lost sheep?
Because this story is not about sheep - it is about us, you and me. We are created for relationship. God designed us to need Him and other people in order to be healthy and happy. And we especially need to be in relationship with God Who is our only hope for abundant life now and eternal life later. Anyone who is out of relationship with God is spiritually lost and dead.
Being lost means being in great risk.

A sheep has absolutely no means of defending itself. It cannot fight and it cannot run. Its only security is found in the flock with 99 other sheep and under the protection of the shepherd.
But this sheep had wandered away from those two sources of safety. To a lion or a wolf a lone sheep looks like lunch! This sheep had put himself at great risk.

Also, sheep have been known to graze themselves off a cliff and fall to their death. They are not very bright to begin with and even worse when they are preoccupied with grazing. It’s not a good picture. Sheep, lost out in the wild, are goners. They aren’t very bright. They have no natural defenses. They can’t even run real fast. On their own they don’t do well at finding adequate food and water. Every time the word lost is used to describe a sheep, it’s a word in the original that carries a powerful sense - in fact it’s a word for absolute destruction, death, ruin. That’s what it means to be lost. By becoming lost, this sheep had put his life at risk.

So, why does this matter to us?
Because Jesus is not really talking about sheep, He is talking about us. He is warning of the great risk faced by those who are out relationship with God and the church. A lost person remains lost until he is found. If he never gets found he will slip into eternal lostness. That is unacceptable to God and should be unacceptable to us!
Why isn't it? Why do we not feel a sense of urgency? How can we be casual when people are out of relationship and at eternal risk?