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Not every person is the same and in order to explain the difference on how we disciple different people, we are going to look at the parables Jesus told: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son and the older brother.
The Pharisees saw Jesus eating with sinners and then asked Him: why do you eat with sinners? Jesus then tells them the story of four different lost things:
The first story is about a lost sheep. There were 100 sheep and one of the sheep wandered off. The shepherd leaves the 99 and goes to find the 1 lost sheep. He finds the sheep, puts it on his shoulders and carries it back. Once he gets back he calls his friends and they celebrate. God celebrates when one sinner repents.
The second story is about a coin. A woman in her house looses one of her ten coins. She ends up having nine coins. She looks everywhere, tears apart her house, looking in the cracks of the floor, she sweeps it, gets her candle and looks in all the corners until she finds it. When she finds it, she calls all her friends to her house, just like the shepherd and they celebrate. The angels celebrate when one lost sinner repents.
The third story is about the young son that asked for his inheritance. So, his father gives his inheritance and he goes off to a far away land and wasted it all. He runs out of money and there is famine. He finds himself them working on a pig farm and he is looking at the husks that the pigs eat because he is hungry, but no one will give it to him.
Then he thinks about his father’s house and that there is enough food. He says to himself, I should go to my father and say that I have sinned against God and I have sinned against you. I don’t deserve to be called your son, but can I be a servant?
When he was still far off the father saw him and ran to him and kissed him. The son says, I have sinned against you, I have sinned against God and I am not worthy to be called your son. But the father says, bring the best robe, put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet. Bring the fatted calf, kill it and let us eat and be marry.
The older son could hear what was going on. (picture – the sheep, coin and young son end up to be part of the feast). The older son was still outside. The father comes to him and entreated him. “Come to the feast.” But he is angry. “Your son has wasted your living on harlots and when he comes home you give him a fatted calf. Here I am, I have been working for you all these years and I cannot even have a goat to celebrate with my friends.”
The father replies, “but you are here with me and everything I have is yours. We have to celebrate. Your brother was dead, now he is alive. He was lost but now he is found.”
What we can learn from lost things. Not all lost things are the same.
The sheep – is unique in this story. He wanders off. You are going to have people in your life like this. It’s not that they don’t want to show up. It’s not that they want to grow or follow Jesus or being changed by Him or be on a mission with Him. It is just that the concerns of this life and distractions or season of life causes them to wander away.
In a very loving way the shepherd goes out, finds them and carries them home. Practically that could be a phone call. All they need is a hug or a touch or encouragement to be drawn back in.
The coin – is unique in this story. The coin doesn’t loose itself. The coin is something you lost. This is the person that you didn’t return their phone call. You did not give them directions to your house. They were interested in being part of your group, but you did not show any interest in them. This is not the fault of the coin. This is the fault of the person that has the coin.
In that case you will have to do a tremendous amount of do diligence. You remember the amount of work that had to be done to find the coin and bring it back home. It takes a lot of work to find something that you have lost. They haven’t wondered off. They have been lost. It takes a lot of work and diligence on your part to find that lost person and bring them back home.
The younger son – his attitude was rebellious. You really can’t do anything about it until he decides to come home. If the father went to the pig farm and give his son money, he would probably have stayed there, and would definitely not be living as a son.
When it comes to rebellious people, they are living their own lives, they are not interested in following Christ, maybe they have shown interest at some stage, but they have completely gone away, there is a point where you need to allow them to come to their senses and wait just like the father until that repentance takes place.
When there is repentance, there is open arms to receive them back home. He is 100% fully embraced and made whole and back to be a full heir, a full son again.
The older son – the most difficult that might show up at your group. He is the self-righteous one. This person doesn’t really know that they are lost, like the sheep, the coin or the young son. They believe they deserve some special treatment.
He believes wrong things about himself and about the father. He doesn’t think he has much, but the father reminds him that everything he has is his. And the father pleads with him to come to the feast.
The pharisee always focus on their own righteousness apart from their brokenness. Without repentance the self-righteous person doesn’t feel that they need saving. In that sense they need to be pleaded with to draw them back to the house. They need to understand that God loves broken people and wants to bring them in back home.
God draws lost things home and we are apart of that. We are like shepherds, looking and watching for things that are lost and helping them be found.