Some weeks I have to go looking for something to write and this was one of them. I usually have several places I look but this week I was drawn to my desk-side bible. I have read many religious pamphlets and study helps and over the years and they have been invaluable in helping to craft a discourse when the well runs dry. In my bible inserted between different pages are snippets of devotionals from different publications over the years, today I re-read one by Doug Ralls. It was written in January of 2013 and published in “Our Daily Bread”.
Matthew 18:12–14 ‘What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
Here I will do something I rarely do and insert a small paragraph from his article. Remember, these are his words, I did not write them.
“But ultimately, I don’t think this parable is intended as a practical solution to an everyday problem. See it more as a description of the radical love that abounds in the kingdom of heaven. God loves us with such reckless abandon that God will ignore practicality in order find us and bring us home. That’s astounding love. (Doug Ralls)
Reality, and practicality would seem to suggest that to risk losing ninety-nine for one, would not be a wise thing to do. So here in this story of the ninety-nine and one, a very familiar reading and one most Christians know well, Mr. Ralls goes beyond the words and presents us with a wonderful possibility, that in reality, is fact. Here are the facts.
-God’s love is an individual love. As a parent would you not love all your children? You would not rest until all were safe with you.
-Sheep are known to do foolish things. We all know people who do foolish things and often we take the attitude that they got themselves into it, let them get themselves out of it. Give thanks that we have a God that loves us no matter how foolish we might be. When we have no one to blame for our sins and the sorrow they bring upon us, our God still loves us. It is a patient love of mercy and grace.
-Our God is not content to wait for us to come home to seek forgiveness. The Jews could not understand that God sent his son Jesus Christ, to seek and bring home those that had wandered away. God will not be content until all his children are at home, no matter what it costs.
-Imagine, forgiveness with no grudge, no recriminations and no sense of contempt, just total and complete joy. That is a rejoicing love, a God that loves us with no pre-set conditions and at any cost. When we return to him he puts all our sins behind his back. His joy is boundless.
-Our God’s love is a protecting love. God seeks and saves removing from our lives the sins that cripple, we are free and in his love we become conquerers of temptation.
Yes, let’s give thanks that There is No Practicality In God’s Love…. Mr Ralls article is a great example of how to read and study the scriptures. Going beyond the words, always expect a revelation, hope and encouragement, it is sometimes referred to as the living word and for reason. Pray you have had a good week and I invite you back to the Pew next week.
Life is Good