Rejoicing …

Jesus said some strange stuff!   In fact, I’m still trying to figure out some of the statements and stories that He told, and how they apply to my daily life.   Why does it have to be so confusing, so mysterious?   What was He thinking?

One of the most difficult parables Jesus told is the one from Matthew 18.   In this parable Jesus contrast an earthly version of personal worth to a heavenly version.   Isn’t a bunch of faithful people more valuable than one rebellious loner?   Don’t we need to protect the safety and unity of the majority over the one that might never “get it?”   How far do we stretch ourselves for a lost individual?

Matthew 18:12   What do you think?  If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?  13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices more over that one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  14 In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Recently I started a new ministry at my church: “Bibles & Beer.”   Yup, Bibles & Beer!    This group meets on Monday evenings at a local bar for food, refreshments, conversation and God.   So far, this effort has been very successful and we have seen many new faces at our tables.   At this gathering we join each other in Christian conversations while eating and yes, if chosen, drinking a beer.   The idea is simple, in fact it comes from Matthew 18:12-14.   Leave the safe harbor of the church in search for that one person still trying to make heads or tails out of what life is all about.   Maybe, just maybe, we might even get a new person into the fellowship of Christians so that we can build each other up and fulfill the command of Jesus to reach others.   It really is not difficult!

This new ministry has become challenging in several ways.   First, can I really take my Christianity into such a public place as a bar?   I think we’re supposed to if I read Scripture correctly.   Secondly, am I willing to follow Jesus into uncharted territory?   Am I personally willing to put my own ideals and prejudices aside for the simple sake of reaching someone new in Christian conversation?   Am I willing to build a relationship with a sinner?   (That’s a loaded question!)   Jesus did.

According to Jesus, God the Father rejoices more over one sinful person being turned back to God than a whole bunch of other people who are already there.    What’s He saying?   Being motivated to bring one person at a time back to God is the greatest motive you could ever have in life!   No kidding!   If you have to “buy em a beer” in order to do it … buy it!

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