It’s easy to imagine that God is the ultimate ‘big picture guy’. He’s got a universe to run and probably millions of prayer requests per minute.
But I read the book of Philemon in the bible the other day (ok, it’s one chapter long, not a huge achievement) and I noticed something about it… other than it having a name that’s difficult to know how to pronounce. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to help one guy, Onesimus, who was an escaped slave that had become a follower of Jesus and was returning to his former master. Paul wrote a personal letter to the man who had owned Onesimus as a slave, and he calls in a favor because as it happens, Paul had impacted his life too. His letter speaks not only to equality in Christ, but also to the intrinsic, eternal worth of every human being.
As far as I can tell Paul didn’t intend for his letter to have a wider audience unlike most of his other writing. He likely had no idea it would end up being read for thousands of years. So why is it in the bible?
Perhaps it’s because it underlines just how much our God cares about “the one”.
And He’ll take a whole book of the bible to save one guy. He cares about slaves. He cares about you. And He cares about your friend/ family member/ neighbor/ co-worker that’s in desperate need of a Savior too.
Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he 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. Luke15:3-7
If you happen to be what the bible calls “safe” then you need to understand that the Father’s heart is compelled to chase after His lost ones. He’s a good dad. And He won’t rest until He finds them. I find great comfort in that because I’m one of those He found. Let’s never forget that we’ve been saved, what we were saved from, and what it cost the Father and the Son to save us.
I wonder if I secretly resent His mission? Now that I’m safe and sound, do I hope my Father in heaven will be some divine vending machine, dispensing blessings for me? Do I wonder if His zeal for the ‘lost ones’, or the Church’s resources that are dedicated to finding them, would be better spent on making life more comfortables for us ‘found ones’? Of course He is omnipresent and omnipotent so He doesn’t literally have to ‘leave’ me in order to pursue someone else, but His agenda is clear.
I wonder if I see ‘the one’ with the same perspective the Father does? Or am I so consumed with the safe ones that I have no margin for His wanderers? Will I help Him bring them home?
Truly, I’m grateful beyond words that Liberty Church has grown. What began with Andi & I and three kids has become hundreds upon hundreds of people. Maybe one day it’ll be thousands upon thousands. But I suspect that to the Father… we’ll always be counted the same way…. one, one, one, one. Let it always be about the one.
After sharing this thought with our staff recently one of them sent me this video from Vive Church in San Francisco… it’s a beautiful portrayal of the Father’s heart for the one, and it might be the best seven minutes you spend today. Check it out here. (seriously, watch it)
It’s easy enough to talk about this in theory and to agree. But let me ask you to do something today about this simple thought.
RIGHT NOW: Take two minutes and invite the Holy Spirit to show you the names or faces of anyone He would have you reach out to today, sit in silence and listen, and then act. Be His hands and feet. Send a text, a note, an email. Invite a conversation. Express the Father’s love.
Let’s help Him love the one today.
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