Have you ever felt left out? Forgotten? Perhaps your birthday had come and gone and no one seemed to notice?
This feeling can break a lot of us in this life. It may even define us one day if we let it. And it's not just us. I'm sure there are people we do life with everyday that feel the same way. I wonder if we could do something about it?
On the flip side, it is great when you walk into a restaurant, see people you know that offer to pull up another chair for you. Even better if they have to move two tables together to make it work. The idea that they would inconvenience themselves for you is a wonderful feeling!
One day, Jesus was teaching a group of people. Some were tax collectors and sinners, others in the crowd were pharisees and scribes. The tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to Him while the Pharisees and scribes were complaining. (Let's be those that draw near rather than complain!) They said, "this Man receives sinners and eats with them!" Instead of responding directly to this comment, Jesus, in His fashion shares a parable:
"What man among you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
This man is supposed to have 100 sheep, but recognizes that one is missing.
100 is Complete.
99 is Incomplete.
We must have a change of mindset in our daily life, that we are not complete. Jesus lives this way. He always sees 99, never 100. How do I know this? He is constantly searching that none should perish. He sent his disciples out with this Great Commission (not great suggestion), that they go and preach the gospel, making disciples. As long as we think we are enough and complete, we will never change the world.
So often we are like a sentence fragment. Incomplete.
A sentence fragment is a group of words that look like sentences, but aren't. To be a sentence, groups of words need to have at least one independent clause. An independent clause is any group of words that contain both a subject and a verb. We have the subject: Christ! We know the subject well. We pray to the subject, worship the subject, and teach others about the subject. I don't say that with any sarcasm either. I am thrilled as I watch people engage in worship and study the Word. As a church, I think we have this part down really well. It makes my soul happy. The only problem is that we are still incomplete. We are missing one part to make this a complete sentence, the verb. The verb is where the action takes place.
2 Timothy 3:5 says, "They have a form of godliness, but will deny its power." When we deny its power, we deny people access to Christ. Listen to Acts 1:8, "You will receive power...to be witnesses." We aren't lacking power. That could be an easy fix. When you deny the power altogether, is a scary place to be. You may inadvertently be saying, the power of the cross is not enough to save that person. The work of the resurrection is not enough to restore that relationship. Do you get the point?! We need desperately to be people who always have one more chair, ready to be pulled up at any moment.
In Luke 14, the chapter before this parable, we see another story Jesus tells. "So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and them blind.' And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.'"
Did you catch the two phrases at the end of this story? The servant said, there is still room and the master responded that he wants his house to be filled! Jesus always has one more chair at His table. I'm glad he pulled up a chair for me, now let's do the same for someone else!
Change your perspective. Live incomplete. Let's find the one.