The Bishop of Chelmsford tells a story of the first church that he ledafter his curacy. He had not read the description of the parish very carefully, but had accepted the job anyway.
When he arrived at the church for the first time he remarked to a church warden that there wasn’t a noticeboard outside the church…‘Oh thats OK’ said the churchwarden ‘we all know when the services are! We don’t need a notice board!’
He went into the church and noticed that there was no font. He mentioned this to the church warden who said ‘Oh thats all ok. We are all baptised already’.
He realised that he had a lot of work to do…..
I know it is slightly odd that the church is possibly the only organisation whose whole effort is, and should be, entirely focused on those who are not its members, but it is true and this parable tells us why.
Jesus is interested in the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost man, the lost woman, not so much the righteous those who think that they are already in a right relationship with God
The cutting edge of Christianity is in saving the lost.
You see, it doesn’t matter what path you have taken in life, whether you carry guilt from the things that you have done, the things that you know were wrong, however bad they were, however lost you have become because of those decisions. Because you can be forgiven anything, provided you come to Jesus to ask for his forgiveness.
A few years ago I went to a service at a church in London where the preacher spoke about an extraordinary experience that he had had. He had gone to Ronnie Kray’s funeral. Ronnie Kray the murderer and thief. He had gone to the funeral out of professional interest to see what the vicar would say. Interestingly, it was not the local vicar who was preaching, but someone who had written a book a decade before about bringing young people out of a life of gangs and crime by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ronnie had summoned this man to Broadmoor when he had read the book. Ronnie said to him ‘well God cannot be interested in my, I am a murderer and a thief’. The preacher replied that Moses was a murderer and a thief was crucified next to Jesus and was welcomed into paradise. Over a long period this man led Kray to faith in Jesus Christ. It was to be a secret until his funeral as Kray did not anyone to think that he wanted to manipulate a Parole Board into being released.
Of course this sounds incredible but it is an example of the upside down world of the Kingdom of God. Like the tax collectors and sinners, who Jesus was happy to eat with, if Jesus loves Ronnie Kray, after everything he has done, then whatever there is in the secrets of your past:
Jesus loves you
Jesus loves you
Not the you that is on show at CAMEO, not the you that your friends think you are; not the you that you would like people to see, but the real you the you alone at home; the you of all your memories; the you of your disappointments; the you of your guilt; the you in the early hours of the morning; the you in that secret place that you hide from the world…..
Jesus is seeking the lost and is calling you now!
Respond to his call, ask for forgiveness for all you have done wrong, ask him to come into your life by His Holy Spirit while you have the opportunity and your heart will be transformed.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “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? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 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.’ 7 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.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Lk 15:1–11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.