How much time do we spend each day searching for what we lost? If anyone needs a project, they can follow me around with a timer. I would guess at least 30 minutes. It’s 5 minutes in the morning scouring the house for my wallet (It’s always in my back pocket from the previous day’s pair of pants). Then it’s the iPhone. “Blair, can I borrow your phone to call mine?” Every day. I spend more time looking for the remote than I do watching television. (I once found the remote in the refrigerator and the gallon of milk on the coffee table. It had been a long day parenting). As I read Luke 15, I feel a little better.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd who has ninety-nine sheep and loses one in the wilderness. This shepherd spends his whole day in search of what’s he’s lost. Right after this parable, Jesus tells us another about a woman who has ten coins and loses one. She sweeps her house in search. I can imagine her flipping over the cushions and digging through the drawers. Then Jesus tells another story about a father who loses a son.
The youngest son is fed up with his dad! Who knows the reason? I’m not sure it matters. Parents and their children will at some point find themselves at odds with one another in a fundamental way. Perhaps it’s over divergent ideas about their career path, religious views or love interest. We’re not told why this young man leaves the care of his father’s home, but he does. When this young man waste his father’s fortune, suddenly his dad is not such a bad guy. He heads home. He’s prepared his speech. “Dad, you were right. I was stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m sorry.” But before he could get the words out of his mouth, the father races to his son and throws his arms around him. He beckons his servants to fire up the Weber and throw on some veal.
The dutiful older brother has some words for his father’s magnanimous, forgiving heart. “Drop dead dad! I’ve been nothing but loyal to you. You’ve never thrown me a party. And yet you kill the fatted calf for this waste of space son of yours.” But the father won’t give up loving either of his sons. He says, “We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of your was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” In all three parables, the story ends with the celebration of finding what was lost.
We get a picture of what God does every day. God searches for what God has lost. We are God’s possessions. When we go astray, God feels the intensity of losing what belongs to him.
Just like us, God searches everyday for what God loses. But there is no need to follow God with a timer. God never stops. This story has made me ask myself a different a question. “How much time am I spending each day helping God search for what God has lost?” God came to seek out and save the lost. God came for sinners who have gone astray.
The heart of God is to search for the lost. It’s the ‘e’ word. Evangelism! Evangelism is a loaded word for many people. It conjures up people on street corners at sporting events with bullhorns. Whatever baggage ‘evangelical’ carries with it, the church must reclaim it. Evangelism is the good news that Christ who has come to seek out the lost and welcome home the weary and forgotten.
It might be good to put a timer on our evangelical efforts. The good news is that the more we search, the more we find. The more we find, the more we celebrate!