Summary: Because people matter to God, they should matter to us. In Jesus’ three stories from Luke 15, we learn just how much people matter to God.
A. One day, an antique collector was walking through the city when he noticed a mangy cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a store and he did a double take.
1. His expertise told him that the saucer was extremely old and very valuable, so he walked casually into the store and offered to buy the cat for two dollars.
2. The store owner replied, "I’m sorry, but the cat isn’t for sale.”
3. The collector said, "Please, I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I’ll pay you twenty dollars for that cat."
4. And the owner said "Sold," and handed over the cat.
5. As the collector headed for the door he turned and said, "Hey, for the twenty bucks I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat’s used to it and it’ll save me from having to get a dish."
6. The owner replied, "Sorry buddy, but that’s my lucky saucer. So far this week I’ve sold sixty-eight cats."
B. An important question for each of us to answer is: “What is valuable to me?”
1. Is it antiques? Is it cars or cash? How about bling?
2. If you have looked at the title, then you know where I’m going with this question.
3. What do we value? How about people?
4. Do people really matter to us? And if so, how much?
C. In early June of 1995, the nation held it’s breath waiting to discover the fate of 29 year-old, Air Force captain Scott O’Grady.
1. As captain O’Grady few his F-16 over Bosnia on a routine air patrol, the Serbs fired a missile that ripped his plane in half.
2. As the aircraft erupted in flames, O’Grady parachuted to a wooded area below.
3. For six days, he hid in the woods, surviving on only grass and ants to eat.
4. Occasionally, he would send out a signal from a low-powered radio.
5. Back in the States, the government officials weighed the costs of sending in a rescue team to locate the pilot.
6. How many lives should be risked to save one man?
7. How much would it cost in fuel and the potential loss of further equipment?
8. The mission certainly would be very dangerous.
9. Yet despite all these considerations, it was concluded that the value of saving one life outweighed any of the potential costs.
10. It was a gutsy decision, but it turned out to be a successful one.
11. Tracing O’Grady’s signals as a guide the rescue team flew into his general location, and in just over 2 minutes, they had the downed pilot aboard their helicopter; headed for safety.
D. I know you can see the obvious spiritual parallels to that story.
1. The majority of people around us have been shot down by the enemy, and unless they are rescued will die in captivity.
2. How concerned are we about their precarious position?
3. How concerned should we be?
E. Bill Hybels tells about a conversation he had with an old friend who he knew to be a churchgoer.
1. He casually asked the man, “Are you looking forward to Easter Sunday?”
2. The friend replied, “No, I’m not. As a matter of fact, I never go to church on Easter.”
3. Hybels said, “You’re kidding! You don’t go to church on Easter Sunday? You can get arrested for that!”
4. Ignoring Hybels’ attempt at humor, the man said with intensity, “I don’t go to church on Easter because I can’t stand to see all those “oncers.” You know, the “annuals,” all the people who only come around once a year. They get themselves all dressed up to make their appearance, and they mess up everything at my church, especially the parking lot. Who do these people think they are fooling? They’re not fooling me and they’re certainly not fooling God! This has bothered me so much over the years that I just quit going to church on Easter Sunday. I have no use for “oncers.”
5. This man obviously had no use for those kind of people, and no doubt, was convinced that God doesn’t have any use for them, either!
F. Although I hate to admit it, it’s not uncommon for people like me and maybe like you, to fall prey to similar value judgments? Am I right about it?
1. We all have a tendency to make assessments of who God has use for and who He doesn’t.
2. And if we are not careful, we have reduced our mental list of those God really cares about to our own little group of select people.
3. Our list almost never includes the people “out there” who are different from us – whether that difference is economic, racial, or moral.