The other day I was listening to a preacher on the radio talking about the parable of the Lost Coin. This is the story: Luke 15:8-10
“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”
I have read this story many times, and thought about some poor woman who didn’t have but a few coins and lost one. But that is not what this story is about. In this culture, when a woman got married she was given a headband to wear with 10 gold coins in it. This woman lost a coin from her headband. It would be like losing your wedding ring. A little more important that some coin! This is the importance with which God speaks about lost souls. They are as important as wedding rings, or the most valuable things you can think of. He is like the woman who has lost her coin, and is constantly looking for his lost souls to come home. He rejoices over even one who is found. God values everyone equally. He isn’t talking about looking for those good Christians who follow every rule and try to be above the nasty sinners. He loves them also, but God is speaking about those outcasts and people no one else deems worthy of saving.
In another verse of the Bible he puts this idea in another way. James 1:25-28
“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”
That is some hard-hitting stuff! I really like this chapter in James and not because it has the “orphan” verse in it. In fact, the version I choose to use doesn’t even mention the word “orphan”. I think God is clearly saying here that we have to do as the woman in Luke did and search for those lost souls who need God. We cannot sit by in our churches and hope they will wonder in. We have to realize how important people are to God. All people. Not matter their color, station in life or abilities. God has made all men in his likeness. That means the drunk homeless man on that street that you pass by and thank God you are not like him…yeah, God’s image. The woman who is a prostitute….also God’s image. The child who is mentally disabled and cannot do anything for themselves and you question why they are even alive…God’s image. We don’t tend to see that people such as these were made by God, just as we are. They are deeply loved and we are commanded to reach out to them no matter who they are and how uncomfortable that might be. God made man in His image and man was perfect, but sin changed that. However, sin did not change the fact that each person God has made He deeply loves and sent his son to die for each one. Jesus did not die for a whole group but for individuals.
God is calling us out into the world to seek out those who are lost. There are so many ways to do that. The verses in James say, ” But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” God will reveal to each person how He wants them to pursue those lost souls. For our family, it’s is through adoption and the doors that opens for us to witness about God. For you it might be something totally different. God has a calling for each one of us. Those callings look very different and can seem really scary. I am scared to death sometimes thinking about what is ahead of us in our adoption. This is a big job that God has called us to, but he never gives more than we can handle. And he will give us “delight and affirmation in the action.” However, it requires action on our part.
Is there something God has called you to that you have not acted on? There is no time like the present. God calls us to some crazy stuff sometimes, like adopting a little girl half way around the world when you already have four small boys. Crazy! But he also provides the means with which to do it. We are banking on it and so can you.