Posts Tagged ‘Parable of the Lost Sheep’

sheep“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”—Matthew 18:14

A good place to start our labor of loving our neighbor is with our little neighbors: children— abused, bullied, orphaned, trampled-in-war-zones, failing-in-school children. There are many places where we can help—schools, libraries, hospitals, social agencies, churches, and more. We can also help as we do our daily work.

One day there was a family at the library counter as the librarian told them their outstanding fine was past the limit where they could take out more books. The father didn’t have enough money; the kids looked disappointed that they couldn’t take out books. Then the librarian found a solution: “Pay what you can now to get below the fine limit, and you may borrow the books.” Joy returned and learning continued because of a loving use of the rules.

Our idea of loving our neighbors grows when we remember that “these little ones” are all who follow Jesus like a child. Jesus explains the reverse math of his kingdom with his story of the lost sheep. We could rationalize that one percent loss on a hundred sheep is not bad, but the Good Shepherd risks all to go after one lonely, lost sheep. That logic could get us into some hard, hopeless situations, but today’s verse provides hope, for our “Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.”—Luke 15:4

There’s a famous saying among Jewish rabbis: “Whoever saves one soul, saves the whole world.” Its wisdom is deeper than what is called “common sense.” It is deeper than the famous Zen saying, “Imagine the sound of one hand clapping,” which is designed to jar a person into moving beyond the limits of reason.

Some people are “numbers people,” and their contribution to the orderly functioning of society and the body of Christ is indispensable. But in order to understand Jesus’ story of the shepherd who leaves a flock of 99 to search for just one lost sheep, we must remember how God made each of us in his own image.

Glenn Tinder of the University of Massachusetts speaks about the infinite value of one human being because we are made in God’s image. And C. S. Lewis criticized the vulgarity of those who seek to make us feel as insignificant as dust because the universe is so huge and we are so small.

Missionaries treasure this parable because they must sometimes work years in a stubborn land to lead one lost person to Christ.

Never allow yourself to think that you count for nothing. Christ died to rekindle the spark of the image of God placed within you that makes you human.