Monday, May 23, 2011

"Choose the One"

Spirit & Truth # 226
“Choose the One”
By Rev. Greg Smith

            Summertime is almost here.  Time for fishing and the beach and all those cookouts with family and friends.  I wonder—what would the people at church say about some of your friends who might come to your barbecues?  When self-righteous Pharisees accuse Jesus of eating and drinking with tax collectors and “sinners,” He defends His friendships with them, saying that it was the sick who needed a doctor, not the well (Luke 5:31). 
In Luke 15, Jesus answers the same criticism with two stories that indicate how God seeks out lost people and saves them.  First, He tells of a shepherd who has a hundred sheep.  When one of the sheep goes astray, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one, and returns home rejoicing.  Then, Jesus tells of a woman who has ten silver coins.  When one of the coins goes missing, she sets the other nine coins aside and turns her whole house inside out until she finds it, then invites all her friends to celebrate that the lost coin has been found.  In the same way, God seeks out those whose souls are lost, and rejoices when they are found.
I wonder—what if the shepherd or woman in these stories had become distracted?  What if God had gotten distracted when we were in need?  What if He’d said, “I have wars and hurricanes and famines to worry about,” and didn’t have time for you?  You would have been the lost sheep that never was found, the missing coin never recovered.  Aren’t you glad God doesn’t get distracted, but stays focused on His mission to seek and save those who are lost?
If we call ourselves Christians, then we are supposed to have the character of Christ.  If Jesus doesn’t get distracted, but makes us the top priority in His life, then we also make Him our top priority, not allowing ourselves to get sidetracked by all the world has to offer.  Too often we let the good things of life jostle for our attention.  Family, friends, cookouts, amusement parks and the beach all offer diversions this time of year—and those are blessings.  But don’t let them take your eyes off of the God who loves us.
In Matthew 13:45b-46, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”  Some have interpreted this scripture with the pearl as humankind, which is of great value to God, and God as the merchant.  When God sees us, He gives everything up so that He can redeem us.  Others interpret it the other way around, where God is the pearl and we are the merchant.  So, when we find God we should put our relationship with Him above everything, forsaking the whole world in favor of the Lord.  Which is the correct explanation?  Both—for if God gives His all for us, then we should do no less than give our all for Him.
This summer, you will have a never-ending supply of diversions and distractions.  Be sure to choose the One who matters most.  Choose the One who never loses focus, but seeks you out as if you were the only one in the world. 

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