Luke 15:1-10 The Message
1-3By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.
4-7″Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
8-10″Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”
We worship a scandalous God! I for one am grateful. God became human, took on flesh and blood, for us. God did not come into this world as a king’s child, the son of a religious scholar or celebrated priest.
No, God became the child of an unwed teenage girl. He came into this world in the messiest of situations, was born in the lowest of places—a cave or a barn where the animals were kept.
The message was announced to shepherds of bad reputation, foreigners whose ways and methods were strikingly different from the Jewish people. Nothing was as we might expect.
God in the flesh, Jesus the Christ, ate with the sinners, the outcasts, the lowlifes. Jesus the Christ describes the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of ill-reputed shepherds and dumb sheep, a lowly woman searching for a minute piece of money. Nothing extraordinary, down-right ordinary, below ordinary, available for each and every one of us.
So how did our churches become places where people feel too dirty to enter? Where people are afraid to go in for fear of being judged harshly?
Our church is for people who are broken and want to be healed. Our church is for those who have lost their way or perhaps never had a clue where to go in the first place. Our church is for lowlifes and sinners…just like us.
Praise be to our Living God!
Incarnate Living God, thank you for becoming one of us. For accepting us as we are but loving us enough to lead us into your Kingdom. Let us always remember that we are broken and sin-filled, so that we do not begin to believe that we are better than those who dare not darken our doors. Help us to have courage to be like you and go out and find those who are scared to walk into our church on their own. Help us to reach out to them, listening, becoming their friend, just like you did, without judgment, without holding back, showing and sharing with them your splendid love. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray, amen.