Devotional Readings

Hope For the Helpless Sinner

There is none that seeketh after God. Romans 3:11.

The tax-gatherers and other bad characters were all crowding in to listen to him [Jesus]; and the Pharisees and the doctors of the law began grumbling among themselves: ‘This fellow,’ they said, ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.'” Now that was a great truth. This man, Jesus, welcomes sinners. They didn’t know what they were saying, but they were saying something of great worth. And Jesus “answered them with this parable: ‘If one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the missing one until he has found it? How delighted he is then! He lifts it on to his shoulders, and home he goes to call his friends and neighbors together. “Rejoice with me!” he cries. “I have found my lost sheep.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent'” (Luke 15:2-8, NEB).

Sheep. A sheep knows that it’s lost when it’s lost, but it does not know the way back. One sheep is the smallest number of sheep that can be lost, and it will wander helplessly and perish unless it is brought back. In the story of the sheep, Jesus makes it clear that salvation does not come from our seeking after God, but from God seeking after us. We may not always know the way back. We may not even know that we are lost. Yet God goes out looking.

We are not after an evasive God. We are not trying to find, somewhere, a God who is trying to elude us. That is not the kind of God we serve. We serve, and we believe in, a God who followed Adam when he was running away. A God who followed Jacob when he was running away. A God who followed Jonah when he was deliberately running away. A God who followed Saul of Tarsus as he ran from those scenes in Jerusalem that had almost broken his heart. Instead of us seeking and trying to find God or to find Christ, as a rule, we are in the process of running away from Him. To begin with, and sometimes even after we have accepted Him at first, we do some running, too. And He keeps running after us. God is always the One who takes the initiative. And He is seeking each one of us today.


from Faith that Works
Morris Venden | Review & Herald (2000)
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