Only The Lost Get Found
Fernando didn’t look like a good church kid. He had body piercings, tattoos, long hair, and shaggy clothes, and this was a few years ago when none of this had become so mainline. He loved to snowboard and had overheard a friend say at school that his youth group was heading for Colorado on spring break. There was still snow in the mountains, so the un-churched teen showed up for the registration. Waiting with some of his classmates, he wondered whether or not they would let him go along.
“Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were drawing near to hear Jesus. And the Pharisees and the experts on the Law started criticizing, ‘He receives sinners and even eats with them.’
So Jesus told them this story, ‘What man among you having one hundred sheep and discovering that one of them is lost does not leave the ninety- nine in the wilderness to go and search until he finds the one that was lost.? And when he finds it, he lifts it on his shoulders celebrating. When he comes back to his house he gathers his friends and neighbors saying, ‘Celebrate with me for I have found my sheep, the one that was lost.’ I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who don’t need to repent.
Or what woman who has ten drachmas, if she loses one, does not light a lamp and sweep the house, looking diligently for her lost coin until she finds it? And when she does, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the coin that was lost.’ Just like this I tell you, there is joy before God’s angels over one sinner who repents.’” - Luke 15:1-10
The youth sponsors didn’t turn Fernando away. In fact they signed him up, gave him all the information he needed, and welcomed him aboard the bus at the early morning departure. The first day he even discovered some pretty good snow boarders, and on the lift rides up and the multiple runs down he forgot all about being an outsider. That night after dinner the youth leader gathered everyone together in the lodge. It was meeting time and about half way through the devotional, Fernando had to get up and go outside. He tried to get away but he couldn’t escape the words. “But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” The Colorado night was cold but Fernando’s heart was strangely warmed.
I heard Fernando tell me this story in a World Religion Class I was teaching at Navarro College. One of the class assignments was to write a paper about their own spiritual journey, and Fernando took the opportunity to tell the entire class how He believed in Jesus because of his love for snowboarding and a church youth group who genuinely welcomed an outsider.
LORD. You play the lead in both stories You told in today’s passage, and in both You aggressively go after those who are lost to bring them home. May we stop huddling up in our entertaining church services and get out there with You looking for sinners who are lost.
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