The parable of the lost sheep is one most Christians are familiar with. The premise, explained simply by Jesus to a crowd of tax collectors and sinners in Luke 15:1-7, puts the listener in the perspective of a shepherd who’s in charge of herding a flock of 100 sheep.
Jesus poses the question, “Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”
Our current sermon series has shown me that I’ve had a track record of viewing this parable lightly. I’ve been guilty of distantly supporting its principle, but not truly taking it to heart.
I always thought: that’s nice in theory, but why would God abandon the masses just to redeem one?
And truth be told, I had it all wrong.
Looking back on summer 2018, for the first time ever, I saw this picture so perfectly painted on my mission trip to Haiti (#MainstreamMissions2018). Traveling with a team of 49, our group was often difficult to keep track of. It became routine for Pastor Sonia (our trip leader) to count us off one-by-one each time we arrived at and departed from trip activities.
There were countless times she’d count us off and we’d be short by just one person. In which case, she’d tell us to stay where we were, and then she’d leave our group of 47 to go find the ONE. And each time she did this, God brought this parable to mind, giving me a little bit more clarity on its implications.
Pastor Sonia only ever left us when she KNEW we were in a safe location. Although our leader was absent, we were never alone, because we were encouraged and accountable by each other’s company. Despite our inability to see her, we were never too far out of range to hear her voice (or connect via phone call). No matter how much time passed, we always knew she was coming back. Despite leaving alone, we were confident each time she came back, she was bringing restoration to our team. Even in her absence, she trusted us enough to know we’d act in the way she had taught us. And throughout the entire trip duration, we always knew she had our best interest in mind.
Seeing Pastor Sonia operate in this capacity time and time again revealed to me the character of God. If I could trust my flawed and human Pastor to do this for our team of 49 without question, then how much more so should I trust my perfect God to do the same?
Each time she left us to go find the missing team member, I was convicted about my own skewed approach to thinking that God would ever abandon the masses.
So as we move forward in this series, I am encouraged to be a seeker — not only in seeking a deeper, more dynamic relationship with God, but ultimately, I’m IMPACTED enough by the God who sought me out, to leave the masses and seek the ONE.
After all, aren’t the masses just made up of a bunch of ONES?