I generally don’t have to try too hard to get people to agree with me that there seems to be something wrong with us humans. I once heard a wise man say that you should be wary of people who proclaim to love humanity, but treat individuals poorly. In my estimation we should treat individuals well, and look at humanity with a skeptical eye. As a Christian I call what’s wrong with us our sinful nature. We have a bent towards destroying things and yet – we also have a desire to build things, to better things, to seek after things. This is a nearly universal concept, no matter what culture you are from. We seek to achieve, to conquer, to climb. It extends to religion and we seek after god. We can all relate to the anecdote of the wise guru sitting high atop a mountain, while we struggle to climb up so that we can learn from him.
This picture is a misconception of God. He does not sit up high and distant on a lonely mountaintop waiting for us miserable humans to find Him. While we do seek for Him, He does something radical and unheard of – He seeks for us. With all of our problems and all of our issues, He seeks for us. Scripture talks of seeking as a two way street. We seek for God, true, but He also searches for us. This is illustrated most beautifully in the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18. This parable is a picture of who God is. He is a good shephard. He has 99 sheep locked safely in the sheepfold for the night. He notices one is missing. He undoubtedly is tired and hungry. He goes out into the night searching for the one lost sheep and keeps searching until he finds the sheep that is helplessly lost. When he finds it, he puts the sheep on his shoulders and returns home. He then throws a party, and invites all of his family and friends over to rejoice over the one sheep that was lost, but now is found. The story is capped by one of my favorite verses in all of scripture:
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10
Did you catch it? He is seeking and saving what was lost. He came to seek and to save YOU. Bleeding, bruised, stuck in a thorn bush. He wants to lift you out, and put you on his shoulders, and carry you home. What is required of you? Accept Him. Trust Him. Repent and believe. This will be true of you:
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. Luke 15:7
What an amazing thought! There is joy in heaven over this one sinner (me and you) who repents. There is hope for the future. When you are far off, God draws near to you. God doesn’t wait for you to fix yourself – in fact, you can’t fix yourself. Only He can do that. Only by the power of God is anyone changed.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
God’s work for us is all of grace – grace in the beginning, grace in the end. However, God is not a doting grandfather or needy girlfriend. He is a loving Father, a Good Shephard. Sometimes we think that God is such a nice guy that he could never punish us. A loving father disciplines. A loving Father corrects. God does not enable our bad behavior – he enables us to change into the person that we should be. He calls us to turn from our evil ways and live for Him. He gives us the grace to do it. It is only when we understand the depths of our sin, and how truly lost we are that we can appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and then we can proclaim with the Apostle Paul:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Take comfort. We serve a God that not only requires big things, He has done big things. While you are seeking Him, He is seeking you. You are not alone on this journey. Ellen White puts this idea together beautifully:
And the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel had declared: “I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them.” “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.” “And I will make with them a covenant of peace.” DA 477, Ezekiel 34
We are lost, but He has the power to save and has paid the cost. God’s power to save is great. His love is mighty. He is seeking and saving that which was lost. The picture of a man who seeks God but never finds him is nothing but despair. A God who seeks, but cannot find is frivolous. However, a lost sheep, nearly destroyed but yearning for home meets a Shepherd who seeks and finds and saves. Now that is a God worth trusting. That’s a God who makes it possible for us to love Him, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19. He loves you, and has promised that no one will pluck you out of His hand. John 10:29 Oh Lord God, have mercy on me! Pick me up, and place me on your neck!