Originally posted on my blog unmaskedtheologian.wordpress.com 3/1/15

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying,What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15.1-10

The Pharisees loved the Law and their traditions more than they loved people. If you love truth more than people you might be a pharisee. The pharisees failed to recognize that all men and women are created equally in God’s image. They failed to consider that God loved all people, even the worst of sinners. There was a deception that somehow God loved people based upon the strict obedience of the written and oral law. We live in a generation similar to the first century. The church has been around long enough for people to insert their own expectations. Ironically, those who add extra regulations often fail to follow the two greatest commandments of Jesus Christ. Matthew 22.36-40

In the parable of the lost items we can see a common and prevalent thought. In each scenario there was rejoicing upon the retrieval of the lost item(s). On two occasions Jesus identifies that there is rejoicing in heaven over the conversion of one soul. The pharisees failed to recognize the importance of each sinner. They also failed to recognize the potential that each sinner (lost) has the potential to be saved (found). Unlike the Calvinist, I believe that God creates each person with the potential to be saved. Christ knows that potential, and that is why He spent time with sinners. As you look and listen to those around you, do you recognize potential, do I? Or, do you only see their current situation, life, and sin. The importance of this lesson from Jesus is this, for something to be found it must first be lost, such an excellent and obvious truth. So, when we look at others we should carefully note that in their lost condition lies the potential to be found. We should never avoid sinners!

You might be a Pharisee if you step on people, over people, or around people. (I do not refer to physically stepping on people but we often step on people with our words, actions, accusations, rudeness, cynicism, judgments, and attitudes.) You might be a Pharisee if you stop and stare at people, or laugh at people, or judge people. When we see people who appear to be lost it is our responsibility to help them find their way. It is sinful to watch people in order that we may see what becomes of them. While traveling I have noticed that many traffic jams occur because people like to look at the wreckage on the side of the road. Don’t look at the wreckage, don’t wait to see how bad it can become. Don’t contribute to the wreckage!

All of heaven rejoices over one sinner that repents. The angels watch with admiration as God dynamically involves Himself in the life of each person who He has created. The angels can recognize God’s love toward us, and they enthusiastically rejoice over one responsive sinner. The angels know God much better than any of us, but they cannot know Him in the same way that we can. We are unique in the reality that God can deliver us, save us, and shape us. The angels cannot be changed into the image of Christ as we can. We are blessed to be human, to have such great privilege. Doesn’t everyone deserve the same privilege? Don’t be a pharisee, look past the exterior of people and love them, because they are God’s creation sovereignly created with the potential to be found.