One Lost Sheep; God’s Greed or Love?

On a journey from Ekpoma to Okada, I got in a bus with a driver in Benin who was going to drop me at the park so I could continue my journey to Okada. The journey wasn’t bad, it was just like every other normal Benin bus, those talking were talking and those minding their business were minding their businesses. I was seating just behind the driver, listening to a song from my music player. The driver had started dropping off his passengers, then we got to UNIBEN school gate and stopped again for a passenger to get down from the bus. The driver was about driving away when he suddenly shouted something rough-cut and stopped the bus, he ran out of the vehicle and started chasing the guy that just dropped from the bus screaming that he had not paid his fare. I was thrilled at the whole scene playing out, not because the guy did not pay but because the rest of us in the bus had not. I was only a few meters away from my own stop, and the final bus-stop was not so far either, everyone could have just gone out of the bus before he could finish his chase and he would have sacrificed one persons fare for almost a full bus after a really long drive.

It got me thinking, why risk it? Why could you not just let it go? Sometimes you have to let go of things that cannot fit in your palm so you can hold on to the ones that can fit in it firmly, right? Well, while I was just trying to decide if the driver just acted foolishly and maybe spontaneously too, or he was greedy, a line from a song came to mind; “…oh it chases me down, fights till I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.”

Dear world, you know how we just blow over familiar scriptures because “Pastor has preached that sermon before” and so we know all there is to it? Yeah, lets stop doing that. It would take more than 1 or 2 hours for Pastor to teach you in one service all he has been learning about God for days, weeks and sometimes even months and years.

Jesus talked about a parable in Luke 15:1-10, the fact that he made the same point in several other stories shows how significant it is, it seems he was trying to drive a message that some people did not understand, maybe till now some people don’t understand what he was trying to say. First, he talks about the lost sheep out of 100, and then he talks about a lost silver out of 10. The significance of the story lies in the response of the shepherd and the woman. The shepherd leaves all ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness to search for the one lost sheep, the search is so desperate that he has to call a celebration with his neighbors when he finds it. The woman too sweeps the entire house, searching with diligence and with a candle light until she finds it, and then she calls her neighbors to rejoice with her. The climax of all this is the profound statement Christ makes after each of the parables. “There is joy in the presence of the angels and God over one sinner that repents.” God rejoices in heaven when a sinner repents, he will go through anything righteously possible to reconcile a sinner to himself.

This is great news for all those of you who have been wondering if you have a place in God, maybe because you have done something that you cannot free yourself from, and the guilt just keeps coming back at you. God is not against you, he is on your side. It is you and God, against your struggles, whatever it is, no matter what anyone seems to be telling you, no matter who that person is; God is on your side, and he is not accusing you. Like that driver that ran out of that bus chasing one passenger and leaving the other passengers in the bus, God is that crazy to chase after you.

How do I know that? A friend showed me a post that led us into a serious conversation, the post said, “He killed his only Son instead of killing the devil.” I can only guess how many re-tweets that post is going to get, I might not even guess close enough. Yeah, he did that, and that’s because he knew the devil was only one problem, his son was the full packaged solution. He knew his son could not be conquered by death, his son was/is life itself. “In him was light, and that light was the life of men. The light (life) shinneth (entered) in darkness (death) and darkness (death) comprehended it not” Jn. 3:4-5. Does this make enough sense for you? You might think to yourself, ‘well, how does that make any of this special? He is God after all and can do anything’, so let us consider this instance;

It’s your graduation. Your school is owned by some people that matter in the society. Seats are chosen by class, and money. You get to sit where you pay for. Let’s say you family is an average earning family, and paid to sit in the middle of your classmates, the rich kids are in the front rolls and those who can’t afford much are behind you. But then, maybe someone responsible for recording the number of attendees didn’t account for all the families properly and skipped yours, so you are left standing with your family at the corner, trying to still feel excited. And then these rich guys that own your school come in late after you all have taken your seats, and then there is a handsome guy with them you’ve never seen but should be the son of the wealthy family. The ceremony starts, names are being called, and after you come out proudly and marching back like the rest of your classmates, this handsome wealthy guy who is sitting at the VIP Special asks you and your family to join them. And then you look around and see that there won’t be enough space for all of you but then he just calls you on anyway and his both parents stand up for your parents to seat and for you to seat next to him, problem solved. Do you consider this as special treatment? I guess you would because; you are not entitled nor qualified to sit there based on the standard that has already been set.

This illustration shows us how huge the sacrifice of he going after us is. He did not just call us to sit with him in a special place like the story, he moved to the back where we were standing, he made a lot of noise about whoever was in charge not getting us a sit, he offered his own sit for us to enjoy all the privileges he had access to, abandoning his own glory. Let me show you something in Phi. 2:6-8 (BSB),

“Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made a human likeliness. And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even the death on a cross.”

To deepen your perspective of Christ saving you, I must state clearly that it was and is more desperate than a honorable thing to do. He had an urgency to save the lost sheep (me & you) and so would have gone any length to ensure it’s safety even the death of the cross. God knew he would have to judge the world, and by his standard, no one was righteous. To prevent Himself from sentencing us to eternal condemnation, He desperately sent his son to pay the price for our sins, putting us in right standing with God.

Love not Greed

You see, there’s a difference between love and greed. Love cares, greed doesn’t. It’s an obsession to just own things (lust).  God does not seek control over you, that’s not what this is about. If he wanted to take control of your life and made you into puppet or a machine, do you think you could stop him? Yet here we are, with all the choice and options in our hands, we still can’t figure out control over our own lives. Truthfully, whether you choose to blame it on him or not, he has nothing to do with your life being out of control. We simply don’t have enough days to figure out how and what or how our lives are supposed to be like. Yet he is here, always, offering a choice to us to be guided by him, the eternal Rock of Ages (to give us a solid foundation without fear), Beginning and End (to give us a secure future), the First and Last (to help us fulfil our days accurately with wisdom not confusion or ignorance), and we think he is just being selfish and wants complete control over our lives? Let me ask you this question, please do well to think about it. How do you like your life right now? Are you proud of it? Are you satisfied with it? Is there no void? No emptiness that you don’t know how to fill? No sadness that cannot go away? If you truly believe that you don’t need God, then that’s fine. But if you have not been able to make your life as great as you want it to to be, or as good as you want to feel, then why still struggle for a control you have lost a long time ago? Give up to the one who loves you and knows what to do (Jer. 29:11). Allow yourself feel the love of God, like a calm flowing stream, from inside-out, he will make you new again. Pro. 1: 23, “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” This is the same spirit that guides every believer into living like they have their whole lives planned out, he has our lives planned out so perfectly. It is like an investment, the company asks for all your income and tell you they will manage all your investments and profits for you, all you have to do is just live your life, you don’t even have to pay them anything. And then spend your money as you want, they are there to advice you on how to spend your money too so you are not extravagant, and yet have everything you need, but should you make bad decisions at any point in time, they cover for it with an insurance. Great right? That’s what being a believer feels like, sometimes I too can get so stubborn and disobey God to make my own decision, and then when it blows up on my face like it always does, I find myself back to him apologizing for not listening to him. Guess what he says, “Don’t worry son, I’m here now, everything will work for your good.”

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (Rom.8:28).

That’s how brilliant the manager of my life is, I am insured with my Shepherd, you can be too, you don’t have to be lost anymore. Does this scripture make better sense to you now? “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psa. 23:1).

There are many more scriptures, Isaiah 40:11, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are young.” And my personal two favorites, John 10:11, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

Good Shepherd

Dear believers, this does not just get interesting for those who have not accepted Christ, it is also our joy, all of us who have accepted Christ as our redemption and Lord. Yes, there is more joy in heaven over 1 sinner that repents, than over 99 just persons don’t need repentance. Remember we were all once sinners too, and when we came to God, he rejoiced over us too. If you believe that you were never a sinner, you have not found God yet, “For all have sinned…” (Rom.3:23) and if you do not accept that you need saving, how can you be saved? Don’t judge sinners because they are sinners. Bring them to the cross to see a God who doesn’t care about what they think they are or what they think they have done, and still loves them in spite of all of it. If Christ ate with them, and you are judging them unworthy, is Christ then made unworthy?  Luke 5:32, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Earlier when I started in my experience with that driver, remember those of us that were left in the bus? And in the parable, the other 99 sheep were left in the wilderness. If the shepherd is going all out in search for the one lost sheep, are the ninety-nine safe in the wilderness? Sometimes you have to let go of things that can’t fit in your palm so you can hold the ones that can fit in firmly, right? It depends on how big this shepherds hand is, and trust me His hand is really big. No one who is called to God can be stolen by the devil, that’s an assurance, God cannot lose you. He is not going to let you wander away not after searching desperately for you the way he did, he keeps the remaining ninety-nine sheep in himself, safe. Jesus was confident of this when he prayed, “…those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (Jn. 17:12). Jude was confident in this too and prayed also, “Now unto him that is ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING and to PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS before the presence of his glory WITH EXCEEDING JOY” Jude 1:24. This makes me excited, not worried! You should be glad too, that as you learn about God and obey him to become like him, that he would always be there to guide you every step of the way and keep you from falling. And like the Father said to the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:31).

God can never have enough of his lost children being found because he loves us so much even to the point of death (Jn. 3:16). We are so precious to him and he has a plan for all of us. The moment we are found and we enter into his rest, we begin to work in his already figured out plan for our lives. T. Austin-Sparks rightly said that the Holy Spirit is writing a life of Christ in the heart of every believer. “…being made manifest that ye are epistles of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh” (II Corinthians 3:3).

God’s love for us leads us only to salvation and grace. He wants us to truly understand how he feels about us, He is the solution to the suffering in the world and He makes the world better by reproducing more people born of His Spirit who have been blessed with the likeness of His Son. The only way to partake in this wondrous life is to become born again; simple acknowledgement, a change of heart, and openness to the will of God is all it takes.

Praying to God is just like talking to a friend, let Him know how you feel, let Him know you are sorry, and ask Him to cause the glorious light of Christ to shine in your heart. That is all it takes to be part of God’s family.