““Jan . . . She’s just one girl.” Her voice was soft and soothing. “Lost, wandering, hurt, sure. I can understand that. But our ministry goes way beyond this one person.” She leaned forward and put her open palm on the desk for his hand. He took it. “It’ll be okay, I promise.””
from “When Heaven Weeps: Newly Repackaged Novel from The Martyr’s Song Series (The Heaven Trilogy Book 2)” by Ted Dekker
It sounds so reasonable.
There are so many people. No one can help everyone.
And sometimes it’s easier to let one go. Especially when someone is pushing us to do just that.
And yet …
Jesus said things like this –
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Lk 15:1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Lk 15:3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not 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.
Oh. That’s tough. Leave 99 – just to get that one. But then, it is the one who needs it the most.
But when it’s someone you really care about (like the man’s fiancée in When Heaven Weeps) who is telling you to leave the one, don’t we want to please that person and try to ignore the one?
And what about when our ministry gets really big and it gets even easier to ignore the one?
Or when that person is kind of a pain (like the one in When Heaven Weeps) and you don’t really want to go to all that trouble?
And then Jesus followed it up with this –
The Parable of the Lost Coin
Lk 15:8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not 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.”
So it’s not just sheep – it’s coins as well And while we may not value sheep (how many people own sheep any more?) or even coins (paper, plastic and electronic transfers are so much more valuable) – they were both important in His time. Maybe today it would be the parable of the debit card or the ATM password.
And it’s two things in a row on the same topic. Once is important enough. Twice in a row – we know Jesus is trying hard to get our attention!
But still – it’s only one person – that person is a problem – and we might look bad to some if we go after that one person.
But then, Jesus did this –
Jn 7:53 Then each went to his own home.
Jn 8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Jn 8:9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Jn 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Surely, Jesus could have avoided this. After all – He knew it was a setup. He knew He was going to get people mad at Him. And this woman had committed adultery. Nothing good can come from this. Or could it?
And Jesus knew this –
Mk 11:18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
But that didn’t stop Him. He did think the woman we just looked at was important. Important enough that He would rescue her in front of the very people who were going to kill Him. Important enough that He took time out of His busy schedule for this one person. Important enough that He didn’t care about the circumstances that put her where she was. Actually – He did care – and it was His care that made Him go to her, as opposed to staying away from her.
And what about us?
We read the Bible. (At least, if you’re a Christian, you should read it). We know (hopefully) what Jesus said and what He did.
We claim to follow Jesus. (At least if we’re Christians we claim that.)
We also live in the world and have friends, desires, wishes, fears, Etc.
So do we really follow Him? Or do we just try to look why we do – pretend we do – but then we don’t?
When we read the Bible – it’s not just a bunch of stories. It’s a way to live.
If you’re the one – find a shepherd.
For us shepherds – we need to go find the one’s.