Two different stories from scripture have been heavy on my heart recently. The first is the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7) where a shepherd leaves 99 sheep in order to find the one that is lost. The second is the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) where a father celebrates the return of the lost son much to the disgust of the older son who has been obedient and at home the whole time. You can almost hear him thinking, "Doesn't my life matter, too?"
It's fun to place two parables "side by side" to see what we can take away from the exercise. When I look at these parables together, two things become obvious to me:
1) Recognizing the value of one sheep in no way affects or minimizes the value of other sheep.
It just doesn't work that way. As difficult as it is for us to shift from "finite thinking" to "infinite thinking," it doesn't change the fact that God values the entire creation in an infinite way.
2) Being a follower of Christ means being willing to pursue those who are lost or in dark places
. It's great that 99 sheep are safe or that one brother is home and accounted for. That's wonderful. However, our mission goes beyond that. We are called by Christ to seek those who have not yet realized the safety and security of the 99 or the older brother.
This is such a challenging time for our world. There are so many needs. I remain hopeful because I see people living these values. I wonder how these sacred stories are calling us to live up to the mission of Christ in our schools and our larger communities?