When a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one wanders off, he lets it go to the world, such that he can focus on the care and feeding of the remaining 99, lest they feel any discomfort or uneasyness with their shephard being gone for a bit.
Contrast this with what Jesus said:
1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent
And then, lets think about contemporary Christianity and its excuses
1. We can’t go there… last time we were there, the offering only covered half our expenses.
2. We need to watch our resources, we are spread too thin, homeless ministry is too expensive, we need to cut back.
3. We are to be separate from the world, we are to be safe, we are to be pure, we are to strive for righteousness. Can dark and light co-exist. We need to take care of our own and protect them.
4. They don’t repent, they won’t ever be like us, we can’t waste anymore time on them. They only say they will change, but we know its just a game with them.
Many years ago, I heard of a young preacher with a heart for the homeless, the drug users, and the downtrodden. He was making a difference, yet folks were critical. He ministered and gave shelter, food, and money to those in need. No one was left out. Folks were critical, he’s wasting his time they said, he’s waisting our money they said, those folks will never change.
The thing was, is that for the most part, those critical of the young preacher were correct. Folks didn’t change, despite his preaching, and his showing the love of Christ. Yet, a few did, and there was much rejoicing by the preacher, but not from the rest of the flock.
Over time, the young preacher changed, he still head a heart for the lost, but he saw the worlds wisdom in being careful with his limited resources. He started restricting to whom he would minister too, and who he would give shelter too. If folks resisted change, well, they were out of luck. People applauded the change. Donations increased, his success grew. By the worlds standards, he had done great things, and people applauded. Folks were getting saved, folks were getting ministered too, and getting food and shelter. Yet, the 1 lost sheep was left out in the cold, no food, no shelter, and an admonition: change, and I will let you in the door. This is the worlds way, the ministry grew and grew, many people liked the pop psychology of anti-enabling……
What about the 1 lost sheep?