What do we think of people outside of the church? Do we snub them or view them as lost valuables?
Let us understand that God calls those outside of the Christian faith lost valuables.
We will look at lost things like sheep, coins and children.
Are non-Christians also sheep?
Are non-Christians also sheep? In the context of the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-32) those who are sinners are like lost sheep. The term sinner was derisively used by super-religious Pharisees and teachers of the law. Jesus taught that even the most pious believers have done wrong, because all human beings have sinned. How dangerous and irresponsible it seems for a sheep farmer to leave 99 alone and unprotected for the sake of one lost sheep. The math simply doesn't add up. Locally, lambs average about $375 a head. At those prices, 99 would cost about $37,000. Putting $37,000 at risk to save $375 does not make business sense, but it does make heavenly sense. The exaggeration shows how much God cares for the lost and his heart’s desire for them to join his flock.
The world’s most valuable coin according to about.com is a 1933 gold double eagle worth in excess of $7.5 million. However, bornrich.com claims that another coin is even more valuable, a silver 1795 flowing hair dollar worth over $7.8 million. Luke 15:1-32 contains a parable of a lost coin. Imagine losing a small object worth almost $8 million. It could get easily lost. Imagine losing a winning lottery ticket worth millions. What would you do? I know what I would do. I’d be turning up everything in the house looking until I found it. Like the lady looking for her lost valuable coin, I’d sweep and scour every nook and cranny. When I found my coin worth millions, I’d be sure to throw a party. So do the angels when even just one sinner repents.
Celebration of the lost now found
Luke 15:1-32 reminds us that we have all been like the lost sheep, the lost coin or a lost child. Each week at church services is also like a celebration of the return of we who were lost in the world. As we gather together we are reminded of the price paid for us and the joy of our rescue from being lost. Jesus ate with degenerate sinners because those who have gone astray are important to him. We rejoice with him that he has found his lost sheep. In church assemblies we also rejoice with the angels of heaven who throw a great party over even just one sinner who repents. We rejoice with God our father as he celebrates the homecoming of those who were dead and are alive again, who were lost and now are found.
Some Christians have an us-and-them mentality. It is called exclusivism, the attitude of excluding people from the church because of a varying array of deficiencies. No church would willingly include those who actively threaten life and limb, so every church is to some degree exclusive. But the larger the list of excluded traits, the more exclusive the church. Some churches are excessively exclusive. What would Jesus’ attitude be towards this mentality? In Luke 15:1-32 we seem to be taught that Jesus is actively seeking ways to include rather than exclude people. In this parable, virtually all of humanity not currently in a church could be seen as lost and Jesus’ desire is to find the lost and include them in his flock. Rather than an us-and-them mentality, Jesus seems to have an us and the lost of us mentality.
Do we have the same attitude to God and his holy angels towards those outside of the church? Do we consider them as like lost valuables worth rescuing?