Have been thinking about the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 to search for the ONE lost lamb. I think there are beautiful truths still left uncovered in this passage. What did the lamb do to be saved? Did he repent? If so, what led him to repentance?
Here’s what I am seeing….First he did NOTHING except run away, put himself in danger, risk starvation and loneliness. In this story, the only action I see in on the part of the Savior (Shepherd). The Shepherd left the 99 and searched for the one. The Shepherd picked him up. The Shepherd lay him across His shoulders. The Shepherd rejoiced at finding him. Sooo, again…what exactly did the lamb do??? The lamb did nothing except surrender to being carried. Nothing but submit to the strong but gentle grip of the Shepherd. Nothing but let go of the restlessness that had driven him to wander in the first place. The lamb did nothing except perhaps nuzzle in close enough to smell the familiar sweet scent of his Savior and hear His heartbeat racing with the flutter of excitement at finding His precious lamb!
And I ask you, is it not THAT very love so freely given, without merit or good works, that leads all of us to repentance?? Is it not in the sweet moment of relishing in the safety and warmth of the gentle grip of our Savior that leads us to regret our actions? Is it not in that moment when His love for us is realized that we want to make changes and start anew??
In the wake of this most recent horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, so many people attempt to find a reason for such evil. Unspeakable suffering, pain, and hurting take place in lives everyday. As we attempt to understand with our finite minds something infinite, we must understand that without Faith and Hope, we will struggle to explain the existence of evil to those that jeer at a proposed “Lack of the existence of God”, they say “Where is your God? If he exists, why would he allow these things to happen?”. Jimmy’s post below on Hope, truly resonates. While we can offer up a myriad of “explanations” as to why such things happen, or why evil runs rampant, I was reminded of this rebuttal to the demand of a scientific explanation of God’s existence, that I came across a few years ago. A little lengthy but truly worth the read……..
Consider this explanation for those void of faith and insist on a “scientific” explanation of such events.
“Let me explain the problem science has with religion.” The professor of philosophy pauses before his class, then asks one of his new students to stand.
“You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?”
“Yes sir,” the student says.
“So you believe in God?”
“Is God good?”
“Sure! God’s good.”
“Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?”
“Are you good or evil?”
“The Bible says I’m evil.”
The professor grins knowingly. “Aha! The Bible!” He considers for a moment. “Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?”
“Yes sir, I would.”
“So you’re good…!”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.”
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. “He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?”
The student is silent. “No, you can’t, can you?” the professor says.
He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.
“Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?”
“Er…yes”, the student says.
“Is Satan good?”
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. “No.”
“Where does Satan come from?”
The student falters,”From God.”
“That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?”
“Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?”
“So who created evil?”, the professor continues, “If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists. And according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.”
Again, the student has no answer.
” Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things — do they exist in this world?”
The student squirms on his feet. “Yes.”
“So who created them?”
The student does not answer, so the professor repeats his question, “Who created them?”
There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. “Tell me”, he continues on to another student, “do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?”
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. “Yes, professor, I do.”
The old man stops pacing. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?”
“No sir. I’ve never seen Him.”
“Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?”
“No, sir, I have not…”
“Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ? Or God, for that matter?”
“No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.”
“Yet you still believe in him?”
“According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?”
“Nothing”, the student replies, “I only have my faith.”
“Yes, faith”, the professor repeats, “And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.”
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own. “Professor, is there such a thing as heat? “
“And is there such a thing as cold?”
“Yes, son, there’s cold too.”
“No sir, there isn’t.”
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room becomes very quiet.
The student begins to explain.
“You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest – 458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy.
Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.”
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
“What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?”
“Yes”, the professor replies without hesitation, “What is night if it isn’t darkness?”
“You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing — and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?”
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. “So what point are you making, young man?”
“My point, professor, is that your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.”
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. “Flawed? Can you explain how?”
“You are working on the premise of duality”, the student explains. “You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood, either one.
To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me,professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?”
“If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.”
“Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?”
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes
where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
“Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?”
The class is in uproar.
The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.
“To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.”
The student looks around the room.
“Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?”
The class breaks out into laughter.
“Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?”
Now the room is silent. The professor stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. “I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.”
“Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,” the student continues. “Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?”
Now uncertain, the professor responds, “Of course there is evil. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”
To this the student replies, “Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”
The professor sits down.
To be known so well by God, is a comforting and terrifying thing.
To think that He knows me so well…sees even the deepest recesses of my soul, all of my inconsistencies and failings…yet loves me so passionately deep, limitless, and boundless, is unfathomable.
To know that His mercy and Grace is equally the same as His love…brings such joy to the heart of this sinner.
Knowing that it is by such love, that His Grace is my hearts salvation, brings me peace.
Though my finite mind cannot concieve the thought of His infinite love, I will forever be thankful for His love for me!
Nothing can melt a Daddy’s heart quicker than one of his baby’s running to him arms open wide excitedly
Photo courtesy of : Photostock
yelling, “Daddy”! If you have never experienced it….you have missed one of life’s most beautiful moments.
Little girls especially can have this affect and sometimes learn at an early age that a bat of the eye lashes and a soft “Daddy can I have…” and the next thing you know you are emptying your wallet and she is headed to the mall to buy who knows what.
I have so many fond memories of my babies and those early years. It doesn’t happen very much later on in life when they get older I am finding out.
I found myself reminiscing about those times the other night and the thought came to me, “Imagine how God feels when we call Him “Daddy””. When we feel so deeply and intimately toward Him as a child to his Daddy. Think of how you feel when your child looks at you lovingly and says “I love you Daddy”, now multiply that many times over and we might just begin to scratch the surface of how our “Daddy” God feels when we do the same.
We know without doubt that He loves us so very deeply. We can see it in everything around us. He has shown it through His Grace and Mercy toward us and in His gifting of eternal life for us.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” (Romans 8:14-17, NRSV; cf. Gal. 4:5-6)
I can imagine that much like you or I would do when our child call us “Daddy”, I can imagine Him saying, “I love it when they call me Daddy”!
(On God as Daddy)
His light shines through darkness.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5
The absence of all color is black, although there are those that would argue this sentiment. I have even had a few artistic folk claim that the absence of color is white and that black is the culmination of all colors. Most have forgotten what they were taught in 8th grade science, color is determined by what we see reflected off of an object. White is a combination of all colors being reflected off of an object. Black is THE ABSENCE OF ANY COLOR being reflected off of an object. Therefore in the same respect, the absence of all light is darkness.
Jesus has come into the world to abolish darkness…to displace the darkness with His light. A light so bright that darkness cannot overcome it. A light so intense that it penetrates to the deepest of depths, to the darkest of darkness….and the light overcomes the darkness.
“In Him was life…and that life was the light of all mankind.”
A life lived in Him shines light to the darkened hearts of those around us. A life lived in Him is filled with love, and that love is what shines so brightly to those in the shadows. That love, that light, overcomes the darkness and allows all of the colors of life to be shown in all of its beauty. Ask anyone who receives Christ for the first time and they will tell you that the whole world looks different…they see things in a whole new light. They see things as God intended them to be. Full of beauty and wonder.
Heavenly Father help us to live a life full of light, shining your love to all who dwell in the shadows of life.