Scripture selection: Luke 15:7
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
As Jesus went about teaching about the kingdom, he used many illustrations. Some of them were easily grasped by the people – others didn’t seem to fit with their idea of justice and righteousness.
I can’t help but wonder what some thought about Jesus’ teaching concerning the “lost” sheep.
I imagine that some heard it as it was intended – very good news.
I also imagine that many were offended by this offer of “amazing grace.” Who was this Jesus’ anyway – that he should presume to forgive sins and welcome sinners?
I can hear many of the most “religious” people of the day crying foul.
Like small children, intent on what is “fair” or not – we so often want others to “get what they deserve.”
At the same time, we want mercy – not what we “deserve” – when we are at fault.
Jesus would have none of this hypocrisy.
He invited – he still invites – us to celebrate each and every time someone who was an outcast is welcomed “home” back into the fold.
It goes against our sense of justice. It goes against our sense of fairness.
But it remains the great good news of the gospel.
Every single time someone who has been lost is found – it is cause for great joy and hope.
I hope we can all agree that God’s amazing grace is for ALL people – and not just for those we have decided are “worthy.”
By Paul Simrell
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
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