by David Souther
(Editor’s note: This is the 5th in a 10-part series on how our theology informs our evangelism.)
One of the most memorable lessons Jesus shared pertaining to evangelism was the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15. It showcased a key theological truth: God passionately pursues those who don’t know Him.
This is not only a powerful story in scripture, but also a key motivator for me in ministry. My problem is that I tend to gravitate towards the familiar. If I visit a restaurant where I have enjoyed a specific dish, I’ll most likely order it again. When I visit a vacation spot that I love, I’ll want to go back the next year. This is not only because I want to enjoy the experience again, but it is also easy for me to go with ‘the safe bet,’ firmly staying within my comfort zone.
If I am not diligent and careful, this tendency can creep into my spiritual life as well. I can become very comfortable spending time with other Christians. I believe this is a trap for which we can all fall prey. We can easily become so comfortable hanging out with those who know the Lord that we forget about those who need to know the Lord.
What can we learn from this passage in Luke?
- The shepherd in the story puts a high priority on his lost sheep. It is very valuable to Him. In this time, shepherds were generally poor and their assets and wealth were tied to how many sheep were in their care. The lost sheep might be the equivalent of us losing one of our paychecks or our smartphone. It was valuable enough for an intensive search.
- The shepherd was willing to go to the sheep wherever it has wandered. He doesn’t wait for its return, because he knows it won’t come back unless he goes and claims it.
- The passage says that the shepherd will search “until he finds it” (Luke 15:4). The shepherd does not give up until he finds the sheep. When he does find it, he throws a celebration!
Based on this passage, here are some questions I ask myself:
- Is my heart and are my actions aligned with the Lord’s regarding those who don’t know Him?
- Am I so focused on my agenda and priorities that I overlook His?
- What part of my day was devoted to searching for the lost sheep?
- Is what is precious to God still precious to me?
More often than not, I find myself asking the Lord to soften and reignite my heart in these areas.
Thank the Lord He did not give up in His search for me when I was lost (Roma. 5:8). He found me, redeemed me, and now invites me to join Him every day in His rescue mission for others. What a privilege!
David Souther is president of EvanTell, Inc., a ministry committed to ensuring that more people hear the gospel in more and more places every day.