JESUS was a gifted storyteller. He would often tell parables that not only captured the imagination of his listeners, but contained hidden gems still waiting to be discovered even to this day.
Similar to the Rabbi teachers of his day, Jesus would tell a short story and leave it open for healthy debate and discussion. I’m sure we are familiar with the story found in Matthew 18 about the lost sheep.
We are in no doubt that people of faith do amazing things such as helping to feed the poor, providing youth projects and a deep sense of community for so many people. But we must remember that the gospel calls us to extend beyond our own comfortable boundaries.
We are told about a shepherd who owned 100 sheep and one of them wandered off. The shepherd left the 99 to go and rescue the one that got lost.
It is important to note that having hundred sheep in the Ancient Near East would indicate great wealth – so why on Earth would a shepherd worry about one sheep? Why leave what is comfortable to go rescue one sheep? Recently, I read this:
"Jesus leaving the 99 to find one seems illogical, irrational and senseless... until that one is you."
There is something deeply profound within this ancient story that tells us about the importance of the one who wandered off. It highlights the reality that exclusion exists, yet grace and love will always find the wanderer. I can’t help think about the many churches that exist, all seeking to live out their mission. We are in no doubt that people of faith do amazing things such as helping to feed the poor, providing youth projects and a deep sense of community for so many people. But we must remember that the gospel calls us to extend beyond our own comfortable boundaries.
In other words, what about the excluded? What about the ones who don’t feel welcome in the Church? What about the outsiders and the wanderers? Here are some thoughts I penned when I read the story of the lost sheep...
Join me in #prayer for our loved ones they have revelation on Matthew 18:12 about leaving the 99 sheep to look for the 1 lost.#Pray they find their part and make an amends&take all the #AA Steps no matter the cost!#INTERCESSION #TwinSoul#Depression#Addiction#Jesus #JesusHeals pic.twitter.com/uaqKn4Spnn— Derek Dulley (@DulleyTopBooks) July 19, 2019
The 99 existed from the beginning. The 99 are safe. The 99 are comfortable. The 99 are powerful. The 99 have each other. The 99 learn from and teach each other. The 99 are good people (usually). The 99 have such potential. The 99 are doing great things. There will always be the 99. The 99 usually notice and know about the One. The 99 so often choose to ignore the One. After all, it’s only 0ne. Right?
The one hurt and abused.
The one isolated.
The one who wandered off and lost their way.
The one who made some poor decisions.
The one who messed up.
The one who dared to question (the 99).
The one rejected because of their gender, sexuality, race, religion and so on.
The One. The One. The One.
One. Too. Many.
I have been the 99. I have been the One. We all have been the 99. We have all been the One. Are we prepared to leave what appears to be comfortable and go after the One?