“Lost and Found” by John Fischer

A friend of mine from Wales, sent me the following piece written by John Fischer about our engagement with the world. This piece teems with the message and spirit of Jesus. For those that thought the November elections in the US were a major Christian victory, this might give us pause and consider just what message we are sending to the world in the name of our Savior:

For some time now it seems to have been very important to many people in the church and in Christian circles that the world is wrong. As a result, a good deal of effort has been put into trying to fight the wrong in order to overcome it and make right prevail. This has been unfortunate in some ways for our mission in the world, which is to spread the good news of Christ’s forgiveness to all because of the cross, and invite people to become followers of Christ. As a result, a confusing mixed-message has gone out. Something like: We love you and want to let you know that Christ died for your sins; we really don’t like you unless you see things the way we do.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid the second message has been much louder than the first. It’s become more important to make society Christian than to make Christians in society.

There’s one way to a quick attitude change that will help us get back on track with our mission. Think of the world as being not wrong as much as it is lost, and “lost” is the operative word.

When someone is wrong, the other’s job is to set that person right. Do you have anybody like this in your life—someone who is out to set you straight in some area? How happy are you to see this person as a general rule? This attitude creates a very conditional relationship and one in which the person who is “right” is always better. In contrast, when someone is lost, the other’s job is to find that person, and believe me, someone coming to my rescue is a much more welcome sight than someone coming as my judge.

Jesus stated His mission was as one coming to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10). He loved the lost. He told lots of stories about lost things: a coin (Luke 15:8-10), a pearl in a field (Matthew 13:44-46), one sheep among a hundred (Luke 15:3-7), and one son who was lost—who when he came home, was not touted for being wrong, but was celebrated for having been found (Luke 15:11-27)!

God’s heart is really big. He’s already dealt with the right vs. wrong thing on the cross. No need to spend a lot of time proving what we already know about everyone including ourselves: that we’re all wrong. Let’s get back to finding people who are lost, and the joy of being found ourselves (because we were lost, too). I think that will be much closer to our mission.

When Jesus looked at the world he didn’t see bad people needing to be fixed, but he wept over them with deep compassion as those who are “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” When you get that, you will simply be his witness in the world, even when you’re not trying to be.

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26 Comments
  1. Steve February 13, 2005 at 7:25 am

    This is so true. We are indeed all wrong, when sat alongside the only righteous man who ever lived, but He loves us anyhow and looked past our wrongness to welcome us back into His heart as forgiven & redeemed children. I pray that Father will increase our grace so that all of those who name Christ will stop comparing others to their own short sighted self righteousness. We can be so more effective by simply showing love to those who many consider unworthy of that Love. Somehow I believe that in the end we will all see how powerful that Love really is and many will regret not seeing it and showing it much earlier.

  2. skyparker February 13, 2005 at 7:40 am

    this kind of reminds me of something I once told a dear friend:

    "I hate being lost, but I love knowing that I once was."

    it was just an observation of the beauty of being found

  3. mike February 13, 2005 at 8:08 am

    I tend to agree with most of this, but I must admit that I am afraid–I’m afraid of the concept of "just loving" the lost, as if it is a loving thing to communicate acceptance of sinful behavior. Sin is why people are lost in the first place. Our Father hates sin, and while I understand that Jesus paid the penalty for it on the cross, I also see that our continued sin and the rejection of righteous behavior kills people. Literally. Please understand I am not quarreling with the basic premise of the article. I guess I just don’t understand how to love the lost without taking a stand for our Father’s righteous principles. I have heard this attitude (I am not saying this author or anyone else here subscribes to this) described as "sloppy agape." Please help me to understand the balance. And also, is there a difference between the way we love individuals and the way we relate to society at large?

  4. Kevin February 13, 2005 at 10:22 am

    I’d have to agree with you Mike. I think we’re mincing words here in some respects.

    How will they know they are lost?

    We’re lost precisely because we are wrong…we’re wrong in our understanding of God, life, sin, and a whole myriad of things. It’s the condition we were born into.

    We may be happier to see someone coming to our rescue, but that is under the assumption that we know we’re lost. And if we know we’re lost, we know we’re wrong (at least about something).

    Taking the same line of thinking that the author uses on one side of his argument…once you tell someone who doesn’t think he needs rescuing that he does you are now his judge. Again it’s just mincing words.

    The point is the attitude of the ambassador. Do we have Jesus heart and attitude or the pharisees? Can we let people know they are lost (wrong) and love them pointing them to the savior without codemning them and being their judge? Sure we can, especially when it’s done in the context of relationship. It’s no different than it is for correction in the body.

    My brother knows I believe he’s (lost) wrong about God. He also knows I’m COMMITTED to him and would do anything I could to help him in any respect.

    I think what the author is trying to get at is people need to understand to our committment to them as human beings, regardless of their acceptance of our beliefs. If that’s the point, I agree.

    Wayne, I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the tie in from this to seeing our election as a major Christian victory. Are you talking about Bush in general, marriage amendments, or something else?

    We live in a political system that allows (in fact for it to work, requires) the participation of its citizens.

    Sure, I would rather have no laws and have everyone voluntarily live under the reign of Christ in their lives. We wouldn’t need laws if that was the case. Since it’s not, and we live in a system that allows participation, we should under our own conscience and direction of the Spirit try to foster government that aligns with God’s purposes for human government.

    – Kevin

  5. Steve February 13, 2005 at 10:25 am

    This is so true. We are indeed all wrong, when sat alongside the only righteous man who ever lived, but He loves us anyhow and looked past our wrongness to welcome us back into His heart as forgiven & redeemed children. I pray that Father will increase our grace so that all of those who name Christ will stop comparing others to their own short sighted self righteousness. We can be so more effective by simply showing love to those who many consider unworthy of that Love. Somehow I believe that in the end we will all see how powerful that Love really is and many will regret not seeing it and showing it much earlier.

  6. skyparker February 13, 2005 at 10:40 am

    this kind of reminds me of something I once told a dear friend:

    "I hate being lost, but I love knowing that I once was."

    it was just an observation of the beauty of being found

  7. mike February 13, 2005 at 11:08 am

    I tend to agree with most of this, but I must admit that I am afraid–I’m afraid of the concept of "just loving" the lost, as if it is a loving thing to communicate acceptance of sinful behavior. Sin is why people are lost in the first place. Our Father hates sin, and while I understand that Jesus paid the penalty for it on the cross, I also see that our continued sin and the rejection of righteous behavior kills people. Literally. Please understand I am not quarreling with the basic premise of the article. I guess I just don’t understand how to love the lost without taking a stand for our Father’s righteous principles. I have heard this attitude (I am not saying this author or anyone else here subscribes to this) described as "sloppy agape." Please help me to understand the balance. And also, is there a difference between the way we love individuals and the way we relate to society at large?

  8. Kevin February 13, 2005 at 1:22 pm

    I’d have to agree with you Mike. I think we’re mincing words here in some respects.

    How will they know they are lost?

    We’re lost precisely because we are wrong…we’re wrong in our understanding of God, life, sin, and a whole myriad of things. It’s the condition we were born into.

    We may be happier to see someone coming to our rescue, but that is under the assumption that we know we’re lost. And if we know we’re lost, we know we’re wrong (at least about something).

    Taking the same line of thinking that the author uses on one side of his argument…once you tell someone who doesn’t think he needs rescuing that he does you are now his judge. Again it’s just mincing words.

    The point is the attitude of the ambassador. Do we have Jesus heart and attitude or the pharisees? Can we let people know they are lost (wrong) and love them pointing them to the savior without codemning them and being their judge? Sure we can, especially when it’s done in the context of relationship. It’s no different than it is for correction in the body.

    My brother knows I believe he’s (lost) wrong about God. He also knows I’m COMMITTED to him and would do anything I could to help him in any respect.

    I think what the author is trying to get at is people need to understand to our committment to them as human beings, regardless of their acceptance of our beliefs. If that’s the point, I agree.

    Wayne, I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the tie in from this to seeing our election as a major Christian victory. Are you talking about Bush in general, marriage amendments, or something else?

    We live in a political system that allows (in fact for it to work, requires) the participation of its citizens.

    Sure, I would rather have no laws and have everyone voluntarily live under the reign of Christ in their lives. We wouldn’t need laws if that was the case. Since it’s not, and we live in a system that allows participation, we should under our own conscience and direction of the Spirit try to foster government that aligns with God’s purposes for human government.

    – Kevin

  9. J February 13, 2005 at 9:37 pm

    For those that thought the November elections in the US were a major Christian victory, this might give us pause and consider just what message we are sending to the world in the name of our Savior:

    Wayne, is this directed at Bush or what? Just because many Christians believe this to be the case, does not make it so. Are you insinuating Bush thinks this? If so, where is the proof? The only thing I have heard from him is in his belief of spreading democracy. I respect people’s right to disagree with him and his policies, but why put words into his mouth?

    If I am misinterpreting you here, please forgive me because you know that I respect you very much. You are a dear brother to many people here. If it is simply many American Christiansthat believe our job is to spread the Good News by force, then they are clearly mistaken and I would agree with you on this point.

    As Americans and Christians, we have the right to disagree on issues.

    God bless you WayneJ

  10. J February 14, 2005 at 12:37 am

    For those that thought the November elections in the US were a major Christian victory, this might give us pause and consider just what message we are sending to the world in the name of our Savior:

    Wayne, is this directed at Bush or what? Just because many Christians believe this to be the case, does not make it so. Are you insinuating Bush thinks this? If so, where is the proof? The only thing I have heard from him is in his belief of spreading democracy. I respect people’s right to disagree with him and his policies, but why put words into his mouth?

    If I am misinterpreting you here, please forgive me because you know that I respect you very much. You are a dear brother to many people here. If it is simply many American Christiansthat believe our job is to spread the Good News by force, then they are clearly mistaken and I would agree with you on this point.

    As Americans and Christians, we have the right to disagree on issues.

    God bless you WayneJ

  11. geo February 14, 2005 at 1:32 am

    How come so many post without contact information?

    Peace

  12. geo February 14, 2005 at 4:32 am

    How come so many post without contact information?

    Peace

  13. Roger February 14, 2005 at 11:21 am

    I agree. But, I maybe the term "missing" is better than "lost". They are missing from the family, and the Father desperately wants them to come home….

    Peace!

  14. Roger February 14, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    I agree. But, I maybe the term "missing" is better than "lost". They are missing from the family, and the Father desperately wants them to come home….

    Peace!

  15. mark February 14, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    I like the honesty and gentleness of Mike’s question. I prefer the term ‘orphan’ to the term ‘lost’. Knowledge will indeed help a lost person find out where they are, but it takes something qualitatively different to amend the situation of an orphan. Until that situation is changed, survival mode is the order of the day. Until an orphan can be loved into the arms of her/his Father, critiquing survival behavior is contradictory at best, and may seem to be rejection of the person, not the behavior. Orphans are changed most by being loved by a family and taught/disciplined by a father. I don’t think we are perceived as sloppy or any-thing-goes if we don’t jump on every transgression — unless of course, they see us doing the same things…

  16. Diane February 14, 2005 at 7:04 pm

    Oh my! Jesus said he came to save sinners not the righteous (see Mt 9:12, 13). If Jesus didn’t try to convince people they were sinners, I don’t think we should try to convince people they’re wrong/lost. But we can love with Father’s love those who already know they are. If we’d do that I doubt we’d have any inclination to concern ourselves with those who don’t know they’re lost.

  17. mark February 14, 2005 at 8:29 pm

    I like the honesty and gentleness of Mike’s question. I prefer the term ‘orphan’ to the term ‘lost’. Knowledge will indeed help a lost person find out where they are, but it takes something qualitatively different to amend the situation of an orphan. Until that situation is changed, survival mode is the order of the day. Until an orphan can be loved into the arms of her/his Father, critiquing survival behavior is contradictory at best, and may seem to be rejection of the person, not the behavior. Orphans are changed most by being loved by a family and taught/disciplined by a father. I don’t think we are perceived as sloppy or any-thing-goes if we don’t jump on every transgression — unless of course, they see us doing the same things…

  18. Diane February 14, 2005 at 10:04 pm

    Oh my! Jesus said he came to save sinners not the righteous (see Mt 9:12, 13). If Jesus didn’t try to convince people they were sinners, I don’t think we should try to convince people they’re wrong/lost. But we can love with Father’s love those who already know they are. If we’d do that I doubt we’d have any inclination to concern ourselves with those who don’t know they’re lost.

  19. Tim Stiles February 15, 2005 at 8:01 am

    I think you hit it right Diane. I couldn’t help but think about how Jesus handled Judas right before the betrayal in John 13. He didn’t yell, sceam, or point his finger..instead he gave him the sop which was reserved traditionally for the highest guest of honor. He then proceeded to teach the other disciples by His example.."A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another: AS I have loved you, that ye also may love one another.

    By THIS shall all men know that ye are my disciples, IF ye have love one to another."

    Seems like it is still a very new concept for most. It is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts that brings anyone to repentance. Most people don’t need to be told they are wrong, they already know that, they just need someone to love them and lend a hand to their sinking soul.

  20. mrsjava February 15, 2005 at 9:47 am

    I find it interesting at how fearful we Christians are of crossing a line into what might be taken as ‘cheap grace’. I don’t see this in Christ’s life. He was harshest on the pharisees who were "right" and who would never be accused of offering grace of any kind. As believers, fear should never be a motivator, but rather love.

  21. Tim Stiles February 15, 2005 at 11:01 am

    I think you hit it right Diane. I couldn’t help but think about how Jesus handled Judas right before the betrayal in John 13. He didn’t yell, sceam, or point his finger..instead he gave him the sop which was reserved traditionally for the highest guest of honor. He then proceeded to teach the other disciples by His example.."A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another: AS I have loved you, that ye also may love one another.

    By THIS shall all men know that ye are my disciples, IF ye have love one to another."

    Seems like it is still a very new concept for most. It is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts that brings anyone to repentance. Most people don’t need to be told they are wrong, they already know that, they just need someone to love them and lend a hand to their sinking soul.

  22. mrsjava February 15, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    I find it interesting at how fearful we Christians are of crossing a line into what might be taken as ‘cheap grace’. I don’t see this in Christ’s life. He was harshest on the pharisees who were "right" and who would never be accused of offering grace of any kind. As believers, fear should never be a motivator, but rather love.

  23. Allen February 19, 2005 at 6:26 am

    Sometimes we get confused about the difference between dealing with SIN and preventing individual acts of sin. If you make a sinfuk act Illegal and throw people in prison when they commit it, you may deter some from committing that idividual act of sin but you have done absolutely nothing to deal with SIN in them or to show them God’s love; you have done absolutely notthing to advance the cause of Christ when you force people to "act right" but only out of fear of government punishment.

    It is the difference between the kingdom and our earthly society. We can order our earthly society so that is as pleasant as possible to live in without doing anything to advance the kingdom. The government and its sword are not the means for spreading the gospel. Jesus essentially ignored the government even though the people of his day expected him to deliver them from the evil oppressing Roman government. No one els in the whole of the new testament ever advocated using the force of government to make people act holy as a means of actually spreading holiness.

  24. Allen February 19, 2005 at 9:26 am

    Sometimes we get confused about the difference between dealing with SIN and preventing individual acts of sin. If you make a sinfuk act Illegal and throw people in prison when they commit it, you may deter some from committing that idividual act of sin but you have done absolutely nothing to deal with SIN in them or to show them God’s love; you have done absolutely notthing to advance the cause of Christ when you force people to "act right" but only out of fear of government punishment.

    It is the difference between the kingdom and our earthly society. We can order our earthly society so that is as pleasant as possible to live in without doing anything to advance the kingdom. The government and its sword are not the means for spreading the gospel. Jesus essentially ignored the government even though the people of his day expected him to deliver them from the evil oppressing Roman government. No one els in the whole of the new testament ever advocated using the force of government to make people act holy as a means of actually spreading holiness.

  25. Matt Brenecke February 22, 2005 at 7:00 pm

    I find the terms "sloppy agape" and "greasy grace" infuriating. The grace of God is a constant treasure that sustains my life, and agape is the simple love that I ought to enjoy for the people around me. To show disdain for either of these is true "cheapness".

    Jesus loved average sinners without being confrontational about thier sins. He confronted religious leaders harshly and in public. With others he was gentle and instructed people to "go and sin no more" AFTER thier lives were changed by knowing him. Should we be any different?

    I think we need to decide if political issues are worth making an ass out of Jesus. If we get stirred up and make an ass of ourselves in the name of Jesus, does that make him more or less attractive to the people who need him?

  26. Matt Brenecke February 22, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    I find the terms "sloppy agape" and "greasy grace" infuriating. The grace of God is a constant treasure that sustains my life, and agape is the simple love that I ought to enjoy for the people around me. To show disdain for either of these is true "cheapness".

    Jesus loved average sinners without being confrontational about thier sins. He confronted religious leaders harshly and in public. With others he was gentle and instructed people to "go and sin no more" AFTER thier lives were changed by knowing him. Should we be any different?

    I think we need to decide if political issues are worth making an ass out of Jesus. If we get stirred up and make an ass of ourselves in the name of Jesus, does that make him more or less attractive to the people who need him?

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