Reading Jesus’ parables, it seems God is always losing things!
“Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” And He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”” Luke 15:1-10, NASB.
I am fond of saying that God is not co-dependent, nor is He some kind of control freak. He certainly has the power to control, but it seems to be quite important to Him that He play hands-off. He lets us choose our own way, even if it means making terrible mistakes, big mistakes. However, Jesus seemed to like these makers of mistakes, these sinners, and they seemed to like Him. There was some fondness going on here which offended the established religious legalists. They grumbled! For God’s sake, He is EATING with them!
If your message, your hope, your belief, your soapbox, doesn’t belie a fondness for real people despite their apparent lack of religious reputation, and if people of a non-religious or not so obviously moral persuasion don’t seem to want to hang around with you, you might actually be on the wrong side of Jesus’ persuasions on this. He likes people. Notice that it was not Jesus who called anyone a ‘sinner’ here; he saw lost coins and lost sheep. These are things of value which have been misplaced. It is the religious establishment which brands them ‘sinners’. Where the religious people see scandal and seek separation, He sees value and seeks restoration.
I am glad, because I count myself a sinner. I am the lost sheep who wanders. I am hoping He is the kind of God who persists in seeing my value, who rejoices to find me, who goes to battle for my worth against the religious who seek my condemnation. If I am anything beyond that, I seek to be His physician’s assistant, to be part of the rabble hanging around Him that they grumble about.
His liberality with giving us freedom and autonomy may lead to a lot of us getting lost, but His desire and longing is to find us, to celebrate us, to restore our place and establish our worth. Contrary to the fears of our conscience, He does not focus on the errors we make, the trouble we are, the shame we bear. He focuses on our intrinsic worth, on our restoration. He truly and always loves us.
I am the one who is forever and always loved by God. The creator and king of the universe likes me. It is all going to be OK; I may be a bit lost in the woods from time to time but He knows how to restore me, He wants to restore me, He sees that I am missing and by His initiative and power He seeks me. I am resting in His love and power, and in His knowledge that despite my anonymity and poverty He sees my worth. I am real because I am loved by the only One who matters.