I have always liked the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. They describe the passionate desire of God to reach out to one and all, even me. A shepherd has one of the flock wandering off. Leaving the remaining ninety-nine, the shepherd searches high and low until it is found. A party is held to celebrate. A woman loses a coin and searches the house from top to bottom until it is found. A party is held to celebrate. It is comforting to know that God values the one enough to face a cross, a grave, to have me securely in his kingdom. The great sadness is that I am more like the Pharisees muttering over Jesus’ behavior.
Jesus is being criticized. This was not unusual. The complaint was his willingness to socialize and eat with sinners. If Jesus did this, it meant that he accepted them. No self respecting authority on the Scriptures would allow themselves to be ‘tainted’ by association with sinners, would they? Jesus did. He socialized with them. He ate with them. He welcomed them. He celebrated their return as active citizens of God’s kingdom. We could learn a lot from Jesus.
We seem to be obsessed with division. We are determined to maintain the ‘purity’ of our beliefs and not be ‘tainted’ by association with others. The result is we accuse, nasty Tweet, undercut, spread lies, shun, etc. However if we follow Christ, we follow the God who is relentless until even the ‘one’ is restored in his kingdom. Jesus’ example would have the liberal and conservative stop the attacks and eat together. The white and black put away the distrust and eat together. The Christian and Muslim put away the fear and eat together. Radical behavior like this would be a tremendous threat to those holding power by keeping the divisions alive. In Jesus, we see God willing to face the cross, the grave and finally rise from death to defeat those powers and for us all to know the true power of his kingdom. The kingdom of God is where a great celebration is held for sinners who repent (this is all of us). So you see there really is value even of one. The end result is we get to party together.