So He told them this parable, saying, 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:3-7 NASB
What is the role of the church, to grow numbers and protect what they have, or is it to reach the lost and to restore the broken? I think Jesus was trying to break through the attitude of the religious people who were so quick to ostracize and condemn, and certainly were not seeking those who were “unworthy” to be in the presence of the righteousness. Jesus shows us what his heart is, and what our heart should be, to never give up on anyone but to continue to seek after their redemption and to desire that they be brought home to a place of fellowship and belonging. It is not the easy way, we all get frustrated and tired at times. I picture someone out there chasing after a dog that has gotten out, they chase and get close only to see them tear off on another enthusiastic run. A loving owner may get frustrated and tired, but they keep trying, keep calling, keep pursuing until they can finally get them back into the safety and security of their home territory. It should be how we live as Christians in our concern for others; no one is too far gone, too distant, too lost. Let’s be among those who rejoice, but that means we must also be among those who are seeking to restore.