Let us pray: Dear Savior, we all live with a myriad of disappointments. And when we’re emotionally distraught we often view You as a stand-offish God, a God Who leaves us alone to fend for ourselves. Today remind us that You are just the opposite! Remind us that You get into the hot water with us. You suffer what we suffer. Likewise, You rejoice with us when we rejoice. Lord, thank You for being our intimate and loving Lord and Savior. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST WHO CARED ENOUGH TO DIE FOR YOU!
TEXT: Luke 15: 1-10
Fellow Redeemed Formerly Lost Sinners:
God’s goodness and love have certainly been evident over the past few weeks, specifically in the form of human beings opening their hearts and showing compassion for each other. Donations have flooded in to the various charities across our land to help the victims of terror. In fact, our own synod’s board for Christian Service is also accepting donations via local congregations to assist those in need. Yes, those terrorist attacks have shown that we Americans need each other. And within our own church they have shown that we need fellow Christians to uplift, comfort, and look out for each other, too. None of you are alone. Right here today there are people who can build you up because they’ve already walked in your shoes. There are people here who have already walked the road of frustration, war, loneliness, disease, and that inner anger we’re all feeling that leads to no where. By God’s grace all your fellow parishioners have experienced various triumphs in life whereby they’ve risen above the spawn of sin and the emotional ache that results. And why has God given them, yes given you, such inner strength?—To make a difference. Indeed, as our lesson today clearly teaches:
ONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
In our text Christ outlines two types of people. The first being: the one who seeks, the second being: the one who is found. Let’s now examine that first type of person. Let’s see the characteristics of earth-bound seekers.
The # 1 characteristic of a seeker is compassion for the lonely and the hurting. The shepherd of our parable really does care about that lonely little lamb. He knows the awful trouble it can get itself into if left all alone. He knows the evil that awaits the physical and emotional hermit. True seekers know the signs of lost-ness because they’ve already walked in those shoes. St. Paul was such a seeker. He was a seeker who had been a blasphemer, a murderer, and a pompous, arrogant jerk. In today’s epistle he calls himself the “chief of sinners!” And indeed he was, until God sought him out and cured his angry heart through the service of that fellow believer, Ananias.
Seekers are active, too. When they find out another’s problem they don’t sit on their hands, they act! Pres. Orvick of our synod once said that pastors need not play detective in their congregations because enough problems come along without searching for them. But, when they do come, you must act. For anything less questions your commitment to love.
Seekers are also patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the World Trade center won’t be cleaned up anytime soon, likewise people’s fear and frustration won’t disappear overnight. However, true seekers of souls are not content with listening to excuses and allowing others to wallow in self-pity. Instead, they will always seek to cut through the excuses and self-pity and confront the real problem of our inner hurts. Which is: a failure to let God rule your life and to submit to His holy will in all things. Additionally, a true seeker will always go the extra mile to help. Yes, he or she is willing to leave the 99 behind in order to find that one who is lost. Each soul is precious. For each soul has been bought by the priceless blood of God’s Son.
In our text God is the ultimate seeker. God exhibits all of the characteristics we have previously listed. He is active in our lives. He actively took on our flesh and became our Brother. Likewise, He knows the pain of losing a loved one-think of Lazarus His friend; He knows the inner turmoil of family discord-think of His brothers rejecting Him. Think of the pain He felt when Peter, His close friend, denied and cursed Him. Think of how Christ felt upon Judas’ betrayal. But Jesus didn’t wallow in self-pity and moan over His problems. He never tolerated mere excuses, either. No, Godly love dictated action! And so He resolved: “I’ll give my life for theirs and save them.”
Our loving Lord proved that He’s willing to go the extra mile for us-that extra mile being His walk to the cross. He gives us ample opportunities to repent of our sins, to change from introspective brooding to open, honest, respectful appreciation of one another.
Note well these words: “I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Yes, God celebrates life! God wants to pull us out of our dark thoughts in the wake of our national tragedy. Repentance, faith, and trust in Him are the keys. And He uses each of you to help free one another from that downward spiral of doubt and despair. Moreover, in uplifting another you’ll find yourself being uplifted, too! That’s the legacy of God’s goodness which always overcomes evil.
The second type of person spoken of in our lesson is the one who is found. Now, being found presupposes being lost, doesn’t it? And what are the characteristics of the lost? Examine your own heart. When we take God’s directions in His Word for granted, what happens?-We begin to feel we’re alone. We begin to feel that the only thing we can rely on is our own inner strength. But the problem with that approach is that evil intrudes and overwhelms our comfort zone. For evil is bigger than we are. How have people coped over the past few weeks? Yes, many who had no time for the Lord in the past prayed, went to church, and tried to re-cement a link with the Almighty-for they realized just how helpless they really were. But, others got drunk. Or they got angry at innocent people who looked “different” to them. Yes, just as the bombings brought out the best in some people, it also brought out the worst in others. But in every single case of lostness, Christ is busy seeking out such souls. He calls all of us to repentance and faith. He implores all of us to sweep our conscience clean, to see His goodness, and to heed the voice of our fellow believers as they try to pull us out of the rubble of our own despair.
We’ve all heard stories about how individual people saved others on Tuesday, September 11th. We’ve all heard stories about how one person made a difference between life and death. Well, that’s our message today, too. One Can make a difference! One Has made a difference eternally. And that One is Jesus Christ. Follow His footsteps as you seek to rebuild each other’s shattered earthly dreams and uplift each other’s faith. Yes, let us all rebuild our lives on the foundation of His timeless love which no human evil can ever pull down! Continue to embrace Christ, the seeker of your soul-for He is always embracing you! Amen