Monday, April 16, 2007

The Extravagant Father

We tend to make categories of people - usually they are described as some variant of either good or bad. The religious leaders were masters of such categorization! And Jesus constantly frustrated their categories.
Rather than “good or bad” Jesus shared with them the categories of “lost or found.” These categories seem similar, but upon closer inspection there is a world of difference between them - difference the Pharisees and other religious people could not accept.

  • “Good or bad” puts all the emphasis on the moral choices and consequences of the individuals, while “lost and found” emphasizes the act of God in redeeming (reclaiming) his people!
  • “Good or bad” focuses on the tragedy of being lost (which is true, but not the final word!), while “lost and found” rejoices in God’s gracious salvation!
  • “Good or bad” seeks to codify the boundary between saints and sinners, while “lost and found” works tirelessly to cross the boundaries and encourage the lost to become found.
  • “Good or bad” creates an atmosphere of moral and spiritual superiority which, of course, leads to arrogance and hypocrisy. “Lost and found” reminds us gently that we are all saved by the grace of God and we are in no way superior to others. Rather we are reminded that the greatest among us are the servants!

God is like a shepherd seeking his lost sheep, or a woman searching for her lost coin, or a father welcoming his wandering son home, not as a servant but as his son! We must become like that image of God.


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