“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
In Chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus shares three parables with the religious leaders: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. The theme of “lostness” is not always grasped and easily understood, so here we find three different stories to illustrate the meaning. In His ministry, Jesus often speaks of sin and salvation under the metaphors of being “lost” and “found.”
My summer life group is studying The Prodigal God written by Timothy Keller, a more in depth study of the lost son, and the characters in the story. We all pretty much agree that the focal point of the story is the younger brother’s lostness, but as we meet each week and unravel the different players of the story, we are intrigued much more by the elder brother’s lostness. The younger brother realizes he has lost his way and returns to try and rebuild his life. We see humility and a true self understanding of his lostness. On the other side, the elder brother is angry, resentful, superior, and shows no humility in his lostness. He is disrespectful to his father and has disowned any thought of reconciling his brother back into the family.
Jesus aimed this parable at the Pharisees, to show them who they were and to urge them to change. In the same way, we are totally capable of exhibiting elder brother traits. We do things for the sake of duty and integrity and live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love. Our prayer lives can become dry with no wonder or delight in our conversations with God, and we become judgmental of those around us. This way of life has strong overtones of being forced or pushed rather than drawn or attracted. Let me say this again! We can become followers of Christ who force and push those things around us instead of being drawn and attracted to God’s work in our lives.
My fallback tendency leads me down the path of perfection, making sure that all things are happening the way they should. So you can imagine how this elder brother teaching speaks to me, and reminds me to take a survey of where my life feels forced. With this new understanding of lostness, I want to strive for being drawn and attracted to what God is doing around me. I am thankful for the trust in my life group, and that I am able to be open and vulnerable in sharing those areas of life I struggle with! And so as I move forward in life, ministry, and mission, I remain confident that Jesus continues to seek and save that which is lost within me!
I leave you with one last thought that Timothy Keller shares with his readers. There are many people today who have abandoned any kind of religious faith because they see clearly that many churches are simply full of elder brothers. BAM! We are the body, and our individual lostness can affect those seeking relationship with Christ.
Lord, we praise you for continuing to seek and save that which is lost within us. We fall before you in humility and ask that we see more of your awe and wonder this week and find ourselves drawn to you. Amen.