THE PARTYING GOD
Lord, Your love for all is unmistakable.
Read LUKE 15:1-10
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
a Luke 15:8 Greek ten drachmas, each worth about a day’s wages
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” (Frederick Buechner, b. 1926)
Perhaps the most controversial activity of Jesus is his consistent engagement with those on the margins of society. Throughout the Gospels, we see him consorting with those whom the religious leaders consider sinful and scandalous. The true scandal is that their attitude actually leads them further away from the heart of God, for in their universe real holiness means a separation from anything short of established spiritual standards. They are too concerned about being tainted to recognize God’s image in and love for broken people.
Today’s two stories reveal God’s heart in glorious technicolor: he is a God who searches relentlessly for lives that are lost – the shepherd with his sheep and the woman with her coin. This is the God whom Jesus consistently reveals, both in his teaching and in his actions. We may be able to understand a God who forgives sinners who come to him for mercy, but a God who actively searches out sinners must possess an extraordinarily generous kind of love. This is the love which prompted Jesus to come to earth and give his life for them; and, this is the caliber of love God has for you.
Perhaps even more shockingly, he is the God who enjoys big parties. He rejoices in welcoming sinners and actually dining with them – and he invites us in both of the stories to “Rejoice with me, (6, 9). Can we also celebrate, when someone lost is now found, when someone in profound need of redemption and healing receives it?
Does the way you live look like the God revealed in these stories? Does your relationship with God lead you to broken people, embodying the searching, seeking, rejoicing, partying love of Jesus? Or is it more like the somber religiosity and rules of the Pharisees, separating yourself from messy people?
Teach us, oh Lord, to treat the less desirable with the same enthusiasm with which You treated them.