A Sheep, A coin, and Value
3 So Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent. (Luke 15:3-7)
“This herd animal simply got off course. A sheep lost by its very nature; by being a sheep.“
Jesus sharing then parable of the lost sheep reflects on the concept of sacrificing everything to find the one sheep. The point of this Scripture, the point of this narration is very simple: a sheep was lost by its very nature. It didn’t have a way about it that it chose to be lost, it wasn’t lost by circumstance. This herd animal simply got off course. A sheep lost by its very nature; by being a sheep. It was led astray. It was pulled away from the herd, pulled away from the voice of the shepherd. There are people in our sphere of influence, there are people that God has called us to that, by their nature, they’re lost.
We get so caught up in a divisive culture not allowing the nature of individuals being a factor to their wayward behavior. Christian principles, morals and ethics, at times may be counterintuitive to the much of the culture around us. Often we want to force the world to live in our parameters. I expect people who are far from God, who are “of the world” and who are “sinners” to violate God’s principles. I expect principles, morals and ethics not particularly Christian tied to a culture that doesn’t profess to follow the teachings of Jesus. I would never expect someone who is far from God in Christian principles to suddenly force themselves under my moral. First of all, it’s wrong to do that to anyone because now you’ve become judgmental and God says, “You will be judged by the same manner.” Second, it’s unfair. If they don’t know, by their very nature, that they’re lost, how can we possibly expect to impose this Christian moral or ethic on anyone? The church needs to train and renew; being renewed in their mind, renewed in their spirit, renewed in their heart. We need to accept people where they’re at and draw them in.
The next portion of the parable is the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). Here, a woman, who has 10 silver coins, and this is money she needs, this is money that really matters to her. She loses one coin. She sifts through her entire house just to find that one coin. She does everything she can to find that one lost piece, not because she’s money hungry, but because of the value she sees in that one coin. It was lost by circumstance. We forget there are people in our life and in our sphere of influence that are lost by circumstance. They didn’t intend to go down the road they are on, they didn’t intend to go down a road that led them away from God, they didn’t intend to live a lifestyle that would push them away from the people of God. Instead, they were lost by circumstance.
There are circumstances in life that, if I had to live in someone else’s shoes, I don’t know where I would end up. The prideful me says, “Listen, I’d have handled it. I know what I would do. I am strong internally. I know exactly how I would respond and it would be way different that the way they did.” That’s the prideful side. The realistic side, the more God-centered side, says, “I don’t know what I would do.” I don’t know that, if I lived in a household with degrading and abusive parents, that I wouldn’t have turned to drugs; I didn’t have that experience. I don’t know that, if I had lived with a spouse who was mean, deceitful, conniving and did things behind my back that were immoral and unjust, that I wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown. I don’t know that, if I lost everything that God had so richly blessed our lives with, that I would turn from him. I don’t know what I would do in that situation, and the fact is, neither doing any one of us. When we judge somebody based on their lostness by virtue of their circumstance, we are degrading their very sense of dignity and worth. If we have a sense of dignity and worth, we have the right and the responsibility to pass it on to others.