Summary: God’s priority must also be the priority of His children.
Today, I want to speak with you about that which I believe should be the driving force behind everything our church does. That which should be our priority is that which is priority in the mind of Almighty God - seeking and saving the lost.
This is the mission that Jesus was sent to fulfill:
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." - Luke 19:10 (Amplified)
This is the mission we are sent to also fulfill:
"I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me." - John 20:21 (CEV)
Our church has correctly & effectively identified our mission in terms of: "Knowing Christ and making Him known"
Everything we do, from our programming, to our special events, to our management of finances, even paying off debt, must be evaluated in light of this ultimate and urgent priority.
If our church does not exist for this primary purpose, then we are not a church. We are a social club, a historical society, maybe an activity center, but not a church.
A church is a group of people who know Christ, and are committed to making Him known to others. A church is a group of God’s people who are seeking to work together to fulfill their God-given mission of seeking an saving those who are lost. A group of believers whose priority is God’s priority.
Elton Trueblood, the Quaker scholar, once compared evangelism to fire. Evangelism occurs, he said, when Christians are so ignited by their contact with Christ that they in turn set other fires. It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material. Any fire that does not spread will eventually go out. A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms, just as fire that does not burn is a contradiction.
Luke chapter 15 is a passage which speaks to us about God’s priority. In this passage we find three parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son.
While each of these stories tell us about those who are lost, they are really designed to help us understand more about our heavenly Father.
1. That which is on the Father’s heart - vs. 4, 8, 20
Verse 4: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
Verse 8: Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
Verse 20: When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.
That which is on the Father’s heart is the desire to see those who are lost become those who are found.
In the parable of the lost sheep, God is portrayed as a caring shepherd, and those who are lost are portrayed as sheep who have wandered astray.
"All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way." - Isaiah 53:6 (NASB)
In the parable of the lost coin, God is portrayed as a woman who diligently cleans her house from top to bottom in the effort to find one of here ten silver coins that she has lost. Those who are lost are therefore portrayed as ones who God treasures.
In the parable of the lost son, God is portrayed as a loving Father who is grieved over the ruptured relationship between himself and his son. Those who are lost are portrayed as children who the Father wants to restore to a place of blessing.
Each of these parables teach us that that which is on the Father’s heart is not just that the lost be brought into a personal relationship with Him, but that He might be able to enjoy a personal relationship with them.
"Evangelism is nothing more or less than the Christian’s honest response by testimony and actions to the forgiving love of God known and experienced through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is, first of all, an expression of joy, gratitude, and praise. Its subject matter and sole focus is God’s gracious, saving, healing, revelatory activity." - Anonymous
2. That which brings the Father hurt - vs. 25-32
Verses 25-32: Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’