“Seek and Be Sought”
We’ve all lost something we value haven’t we? We’ve lost our keys, maybe some jewellery. Some of us might have lost our wallets with our id’s in them. We may have lost some money. Our children have lost toys, mittens, shoes.
Have you ever pulled your winter coat out of the closet in October, worn it on for the first time, put your hand in the pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar bill? It’s like winning the lottery! Never mind it was already your money, but still it feels pretty good!
Are you like me? When you are away from home for a while, there’s a certain amount of paranoia that you might leave something behind somewhere. By the time you realize it’s missing, a week has passed and you’ve realize it’s been something like 2000 places where it could be.
It happened to us when on vacation this summer. We noticed we hadn’t seen the spare keys to the car in a few days. In those few days, we had been camping in the valley. We had spent a day at Upper Clements Park. We had been to the cottage, my parent’s house and a trip to Halifax with various stops in many different places.
I went through emptying suitcases, bags, searching through furniture, cars, drawers. Turns out they were in the bottom of my mother’s purse. Before we left for camping, we had traded cars with my mother so we could get something looked at on our car at the garage. At some point, she put the spare set in her purse during the exchange. Sweet relief.
As we look at our reading from Luke this morning, we’ve heard these stories before, haven’t we?
A lot of us have heard about the man who lost one of his hundred sheep and goes out to find it. Or about the woman who lost one coin and practically turns her house inside out in an effort to find it.
When we hear these stories it’s easy for us to simply nod our heads and say, “Yes we know. We’ve heard it all before. God rejoices when someone who is lost turns back to God. We’re already here. What does this have to do with us?”
And it’s true. We are already here. We’ve been found, so to speak.
In some ways though these stories, and the situation which led Jesus to tell them, should make us remember something he said earlier.
In this passage the Pharisees are grumbling… again. Jesus has an audience full of sinners and tax collectors. So the Pharisees express their disgust at the situation. They would never be caught in such a place themselves. Jesus responds by telling the two parables.
But as I think about this situation I can’t help but go back to Luke chapter 5. It’s a similar situation. Jesus has just called Levi (aka Matthew) the tax-collector to leave his booth and follow him. Matthew was so excited he threw a party for all his friends, and Jesus was there. Again, the Pharisees were nearby and complained about what he was doing. He was sitting and eating with sinners.
What Jesus says is important, and will help us here today. He responds saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Lk 5:31-32)
Jesus spells out quite clearly who he has come to talk to. Jesus has come not for the ones who already right with God, he came for those in need of God.
He did not come for the 99 sheep in the field. He came to find the one that is lost and to bring it back.
Jesus did not come to look at us sit all happy in our churches on Sunday morning. Jesus came to walk our streets and talk to those who do not know anything about the love of God and to work with them to meet their needs in life.
In John chapter 21, the resurrected Jesus has come back to see the disciples. He sits with Peter and his asks them the same question three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter says yes, Jesus tells him to take care of his sheep.
The disciples who followed Jesus around saw him do amazing things. Jesus knew his mission, and he knew he didn’t have long to do it. So he called a rag tag bunch of men together to train so that his ministry would continue.
What was it they saw him do over and over again? Jesus continually helped people in need. He fed the hungry. He gave water to the thirsty. He healed the sick. And he showed everyone love.
Jesus took uneducated sinners under his wing and taught them what it means to be true followers of God’s plan for the world. The plan brought to them in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Not just a teacher, but God Himself who came to show them the way.
Remember what Jesus said in John 14. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
We are flawed. We are imperfect. Many times we are also lost.
It’s a tough world out there. There is violence and crazy people everywhere who simply make us want to never leave the house and hide from the news. We want to bury our heads and ignore them all.
Yet we can’t. Jesus sought us out and brought us into his family. He brought us into the church. He has been teaching us and leading us through his examples and his words. And he expects us to respond.
“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see” goes the famous hymn.
We are found. We now follow Jesus Christ. In our meetings we are expected to call them to order by using this phrase. “I call this meeting to order in the name of Jesus Christ, the only head of the church.”
“The only head of the church.” Not the minister, not the chair, not the government, but the only head of the church… Jesus Christ.
We exist because of him. We exist for him.
We exist to continue to minister to the people he was reaching out to long ago.
Just because we have been found doesn’t mean we stop looking.