Knee Jerk Devotional: May 25, 2021

Luke 15:1-10

Passage:

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, "He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends." Their grumbling triggered this story.

"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Count on it—there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

"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 don’t know about you, but I wonder about my impact in the world. Does what I do matter? This thought runs through my head all the time.

Maybe I’m just arrogant, but I want my life to matter. I want there to be lasting impact in the world because of how I lived. Perhaps it’s just left over stuff from growing into the faith in the 90s. Whatever it is, it’s in me.

As I read these parables I realize that impact and influence in the economy of Jesus is very different than the way I think about impact and influence. I often think in terms of quantity. I want to influence and impact as many people as possible. I mean, if I’m honest, I’d love to have a podcast with millions of downloads and speaking engagements with 10s of thousands. It would be pretty cool. From the outside looking in, it feels like this is what influence looks like.

But, then I read these parables.

For Jesus, impact is measured differently.

We would expect that the 99 would be the focus. Why go after the 1? Things look better with the 99. You look successful. 99 builds momentum and excitement and energy. 99 is easier than 1 because you don’t have to go anywhere. You can stand there and teach them. The 1 you have to chase down and find.

Jesus was concerned about the 1. The 1 that needed love, compassion, mercy, and grace. He was concerned about the 1 that was disconnected from community and isolated. Jesus’ heart was for the 1 that was in need for reconciliation. Impact for Jesus is measured by the 1.

The lost sheep and the lost coin remind me that my influence is going to be measured by the 1. The 1 person whose life was impacted because I was present with them.

As I process this, this morning I am realizing how freeing it is to focus on the 1. I don’t have to save the world. I don’t have to worry about attracting the 99. I can simply look for and be present with the 1 and in that moment love well.

Each day, each moment is a choice to love the 1.

The Change a song written by Tony Arata and Wayne Tester and was recorded by Garth Brooks says it well…

One hand
Reaches out
And pulls a lost soul from harm
While a thousand more go unspoken for
They say what good have you done
By saving just this one
It's like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm

And I hear them saying you'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing
But it's not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me

This heart
Still believes
The love and mercy still exist
While all the hatred rage and so many say
That love is all but pointless in madness such as this
It's like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss

And I hear them saying you'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing
But it's not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me

As long as one heart still holds on
Then hope is never really gone