I spoke this last Friday on Luke 19:10, "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Sadly, the first thing that came to mind was how many personal things I have lost and desperately sought after to save!
I can't tell you how many times I have checked every pocket of every jacket and pant, every inch of my car, turned my house upside down in efforts to save a lost key or money clip. It's more often than I'd like to admit! In fact, I'm so familiar with the routine, that I have it down to a science!
As soon as I've discovered that something is missing, I have a regimented sequence of efforts that I immediately launch into. And so far, my search and rescue operations have proved successful! I've never lost a set of keys or a wallet long enough to need to replace them! I'm proud to say, I always end up relocating these valuables.
But these things are a far cry from that which the Son of Man came to seek and save. As I prepared to deliver this message on seeking to save the lost, the parable of the lost sheep, in Luke 15, struck a chord with me. Verse 4 points out that the shepherd sought after the lost sheep until he found it.
That word, "until" resonated with me. Did he search until he was tired, or hungry? Until it got late, and was dark?
Do I have a stopping point? Is it until spring break? Until I'm married? Until it's inconvenient? Until school begins? Until I get too busy?
Jesus goes on to tell another story of a women who lost a valuable coin in her home. She lights a lamp, sweeps the house and searches "carefully until she finds it."
Both of these scenarios involve an upset of life and schedule. Both the shepherd and the women were inconvenienced. It was not simple, easy, or just "along the way." Their finds required sacrifice and great effort!
In the late 1800s, the missionary and explorer David Livingstone wrote from the jungles of Africa, “If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”
How much opposition do I require to bring my search and rescue mission to a halt? As a believer, I must identify my premature stopping points, and remove them. The heart of God pursues the lost until they are found! 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that the Lord is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
I know I've not been willing to stop looking for my own valuable possessions, but have I been willing to give up on a lost soul?
David Brainard, an evangelist to the Native Americans in the early 1700s wrote, "I care not where I go, or how I live, or what I endure so that I may save souls. When I sleep I dream of them; when I awake they are first in my thoughts.”
When we realize that something of great value has been lost, we stop our entire lives to locate it. We cancel meetings, miss work or school... life simply halts when you have no keys or wallet. The finding of those things consumes us!
It said of the women who lost the coin, that she searched "diligently" or "carefully" (depending on your translation). Consider these synonyms:
Diligently: perseveringly, actively, constantly, eagerly, earnestly, persistently, tirelessly, painstaking, being steadfast, hardworking and unrelenting.
Carefully: conscientiously, attentively, cautiously, faithfully, accurately, deliberately, precisely, meticulously and thoroughly.
Just think on that for a bit!
It said of the shepherd, that he went after... I looked up the root of that phrase, to "go after" and its simple meaning rocked me: to pursue, and to continue on a journey, to depart from life and follow after another, to chase after, to stop a routine and focus on a pursuit.
WOW! Do I step out of my routine to save a lost soul? Am I ready to be inconvenienced, to depart from my predictions and schedules if need be? Or do I leave that for the evangelist? The young people? The preacher? The FILL IN THE BLANK!
Elton Trueblood said, “Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.”
Charles Spurgeon was asked by a student whether or not the heathen who have not heard the Gospel will be saved. His reply was, “It is more a question with me whether we, who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not, can be saved.”
I'm pulling out all the stops, and giving myself to seeking and saving that which is lost. Proverbs 11:24 exhorts us to "rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward the slaughter." Whatever my excuses and reasonings have been, I'm aligning myself with the passion of heaven to rescue earth.
I'm ready to diligently and carefully seek and save that which is lost; to persevere, to believe and endure until the lost are found. If I can do it for my wallet and keys, then surely I can do it for humanity.