Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The ninety and nine

Matthew 18:11-14  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.  (12)  What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  (13)  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  (14)  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

     This may surprise you but this verse has always bothered me.  Maybe it is because I have been connected to the church for so long.  Maybe it is because I have been around Christians for most of my life.  (Although I did not grow up in a Christian family I went to church as a child because of the bus ministry.)
     I am not sure why  it took me so long to get the true meaning of this parable.   I was shocked that Jesus would leave 99 vulnerable sheep to go look for the one who wandered off on their own.  If the sheep would have stayed with the others this would not have been a problem.  What if while he was gone th other 99 decided to leave, or wander off?  This was my thinking.
    Now don't get me wrong I love the idea of seeking the lost but not at the expense of losing the found.  That was at least my reasoning.
    This week it hit me.  The idea here is that Jesus had made preparation for the 99 to be taken care of.  He put them in a safe place.
    I guess I have gotten so use to the church taking care of its own needs that I saw no purpose in leaving them to go find the others.   There should be a point in ministry where you are able to leave Christians to themselves so that we can do "the will of the Father" and that is "to seek those that are lost".  
    If we are always trying to take care of the church then we are never spending time to pursue the lost.  Wow! This is such a simple yet profound revelation.
    It explains why a pastor or church leader gets frustrated because they can't spend time with the lost.   
    There is a place for discipleship in the church.  We are expected to train and help Christians grow.  The question is, "To what ends?"  The answer is not so that they can make it to heaven, this is settled in the decision to follow Christ.  The answer is that we train and lead Christians so that they can to go out and find the lost.
    What if just one Christian decided to reach one person who is lost?  Where would Christianity be.  We must admit that we spend far too much time MAINTAINING the found and not enough time SEEKING the lost.
    Jesus left the 99 to find the 1 because he had the 99 ready.  He expects us to do the same.

So what do you think?

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