Monday, October 19th Luke 15:3b-7

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:3b-7

We’ve all seen politicians work a crowd. Those who contribute the most money to the campaign get “private audiences” with the one running for office. The party faithful get to attend the receptions. As for the rest of the folks, those lucky enough to get a place to stand by the ropes get a glimpse of the “star”, and maybe get to shake hands or have their baby kissed.

Jesus wasn’t much of a politician. I can’t imagine him working a crowd, seeking favor for himself. It seems to me that Jesus’ attention wouldn’t focus on the center of the crowd; he would be much more likely to be scanning the edges of the crowd. Always looking for those who were excluded. The cast-offs, the throw-aways, the outsiders. Always ready to leave the ninety-nine in search of the one.

That’s OK with me. That’s the way it should be.

As a pastor, most of my attention goes to the ninety-nine. Most of my time is spent with those “inside” the church. In any given week, most of my conversations, most of my planning, most of my writing, is directed toward those who are already part of a Christian congregation, or at least have already been baptized into the Christian faith. Once in awhile, I get to experience the joy of working with someone completely new to the faith. But that is a rare experience indeed.

Not so with you. Those of you reading these devotions each morning – in your homes, in your offices – know far more people than I do who are outside the church. You know people who don’t belong to a Christian congregation, who have little or no faith in God. You are the ones – not me – that God can use to reach the unchurched.

My only advice to you is to watch the edges of the crowd. Listen to the stories that you hear from people who feel on the edge of life, those who feel like they don’t have it all together, those confronting struggles that feel too big for them to handle. Listen with compassionate ears for the heart-broken. Look for people who are on the edge either because of their pain or their joy.

When you discover yourself in the vicinity of such a person, and when they discover that you are genuinely compassionate and caring toward them, they will see Jesus in you. And perhaps then they will be open to your words and actions which bear witness to your faith. They might even let you carry them home, bringing joy to the angels.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, soften our hearts to those around us this week. Help us to be attentive to the needs of people, open to hearing their stories, ready to share the compassionate love which you pour into our hearts. You have carried us, like the lost sheep – use us to carry others to your throne of grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Responses to “Monday, October 19th Luke 15:3b-7”

  1. Sharon Longnecker Says:

    P. Kerry, this devotion encourages us to keep reaching out. I “recycle” this one every so often and send it to the folks on my devotion list. Am doing that this a.m. God bless you.

  2. Chris Says:

    It’s posts like this that make surfing so much plusaere

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