5 June 2012Luke 15:1-10
"I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (v. 10)
What's this fellow doing mixing with this lot? Tax collectors
and sinners (verse 1)! The problem is that the Pharisees know
exactly how to fulfil the requirements of their faith: they kneow
the Hebrew Scriptures; they knew what to eat and what not to eat;
they knew who to mix with and who they should not associate with as
outsiders in their community.
As often happened, Jesus answered them with two short stories. Think about losing one of your precious sheep, he says, wouldn't you go and look for it. Think about losing some money, would you just shrug your shoulders and say oh well that's gone? Of course not. You would go out and search until you found what it was that was lost. We can perhaps see the Pharisees nodding and agreeing to what he says, until the last few words: "I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents". I am sure they must have gone away with much to think about when they heard those words.
So what about today: are we any better at allowing the words of Jesus to speak to "tax collectors and sinners" than those listening 2,000 years ago? I have been in many churches where the presence of a group of strangers is looked on with suspicion, especially if they do not know how to 'behave'.
I have even known churches that lock the door when the faithful are in just in case! In case of what? A lost sheep might come in!
A few weeks ago a window was broken in the local church. A young man found by the police admitted his crime, and it was agreed that he could work off his 'sentence'. So each Saturday he has came along to the church and worked hard in a variety of tasks.
Today was the last day, but he said he would like to come back and help again - it was better than hanging around. A lost sheep? Perhaps, who knows?
What do you think would be the best way to find the lost sheep: preach to them, or eat with them? Why?
Have you ever been lost and longed for someone to find you? What happened?