Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Making Friends Outside the Church
To Be a Moody Bible Institute professor, teach Sunday School and preach at Grace Fellowship in Woodstock, you’d think there would be little time to mix with others who don’t share my beliefs. You’d be right. In England it was hard to really find anyone who reinforced what I believe; the same in Japan. However, in Pakistan and the United States I have been surrounded by agreement and it often makes me complacent. Of course everyone would agree with Christianity, its truth is proven when we look at the nature of reality. Right?
Having a new cafe in my home town of McHenry is a help. I had resolved once before to get out more around my community. I was going to attend book clubs and movie clubs at the local library. Instead I attended a church men’s study held in the local Remax offices. It was great to be built into by men, but I missed the opportunity to discuss ideas with those who disagreed. My desire to be like St. Paul didn’t pan out.
But how about being like Jesus? In this passage he hangs out with those whose lives have been broken. He hangs out with those who do not think they have got it all together. He sits down with those who are usually overlooked and uninvited. I immediately began to think of places for people suffering with AIDS. My friend Richard used to work at such a place and frequently recalls what a profound experience it was. Then there are those who are old or disabled. It was easy when they were Kelli’s parents. We lived with them and then visited the local rehab and seniors’ home where they stayed after operations. I know people who live there now and they adored my children when we dropped by. However, I don’t go there very often at all.
Then there is the local cafe that has just moved in. I looked at the bookshelf and they had Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life a couple of books away from A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. If there was any intentionality about placing these books on the same shelf, it certainly shows an open mind. I am hopeful that, as I spend time working on papers, grading, and socialising, my beliefs might be questioned. It may become like the coffee house Pumpkin in Tosayamada, Japan, where my atheist friend Erik and I would discuss for hours. It may become something like Pilgrim’s Cafe which used to be on the Barbican in Plymouth, England where Toby, Neil and I would debate when I was in secondary school. I crave the exchange of ideas, it sharpens my thinking. I also love the lost. Like Jesus I want to see God restore people to the lives they were designed to live. I want to party like they do in heaven. I already have a venue for the party picked out.
I want friendships to have mutuality and purpose. I desire the best for those I meet. I want their fulfillment and I believe that we are only fully satisfied when our desires are met in you.
- Why does Jesus tell these two parables?
- With what kind of people does Jesus associate?
- How does the Bible propose that Christians behave around those who disagree with them?
- Where do you meet those who are outside the faith?
- Why reach out to those people? How?