Summary: A sermon on seeking the lost in love.
“The Double Outcast Gets Saved!”
A friend of mine from back in Virginia recently told me that she and her pastor are going to begin hanging out at the local bar on Friday and Saturday nights.
They aren’t going there in order to get drunk…they’ll be drinking cokes… they are going there to connect with people who are isolated, lonely, perhaps addicted…and then tell them about Jesus and invite them to church.
I have a feeling that is the kind of thing Jesus would do if Jesus were to come to earth in the 21st Century.
I love how Neil Cole puts it: “If you want to win this world to Christ, you are going to have to sit in the smoking section. If the church isn’t willing to get its hands or lungs dirty, it won’t have a hearing.
The homes and hearts of people are open to the Gospel.
But it’s relationships that bring the Gospel home.”
God is the One Who seeks us out…
…like a woman searching for a lost coin…
…like a shepherd who leaves the ninety nine sheep in order to find the one which is lost.
In a similar way, we as Christ’s Body on this earth are to seek the lost as well.
We can’t just sit back and expect folks to come searching for us.
We are sent into the world, just as Jesus was sent into the world.
Author Howard Snyder is quoted as saying, “The Gospel says, ‘Go,” but so often our church buildings say, ‘Stay.’
The Gospel says, ‘Seek the lost,’ but our church buildings often say let the lost seek the church.”
What are we doing to seek the lost?
Certainly one thing we are doing is having this pumpkin patch—for the soul reason of attracting folks to our property in order to invite them to come be a part of this community where they will meet Christ.
And I am so impressed at how you all have taken on this responsibility so enthusiastically!!!
Another way we ‘Seek the Lost’ is by handing out invitation cards and putting up door-hangers…and inviting those we meet to come worship God with us at Grace United Methodist Church.
But we can do much more.
And the more we do to “Seek the Lost,” the closer becomes our walk with God!
Because God is in the business of ‘Seeking the lost!”
In this morning’s Gospel Lesson Jesus meets up with some of the most despised, isolated and lost people of His time—lepers!!!
And Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers caused those around Jesus to come face to face with their worst fears and deepest prejudices.
Does our relationship with Christ cause us to come face to face with our worst fears and deepest prejudices?
Does our relationship with Christ cause us to re-evaluate those fears?
In our day, “Hansen’s Disease” is the preferred name for the illness that used to be called “leprosy,” although in biblical times a variety of skin diseases were included under this term.
And the only form of disease prevention available in those days for leprosy was quarantine.
The leper was considered utterly unclean—physically and spiritually.
The leper couldn’t approach within fifty yards of any person including family members.
They were utterly isolated, marked by their clothing and hair, as well as by the requirement to cover their upper lip and cry “Unclean! Unclean!”
The leper was an outcast who, along with tax collectors and prostitutes and beggars, had no place in the religious community.
However, such outcastes were precisely the focus of Jesus’ ministry!!!
What kinds of folks are the focus of our ministry?
Bono of the Rock Band U2 is quoted as saying, “If Jesus were on earth you’d find Him in a gay bar in San Francisco.
These are the new lepers.
If you want to find where Jesus would be hanging out, it’ll always be with the lepers.”
Lepers were the outcasts!
They were totally ostracized from society.
Just imagine the anguish and heartbreak of the leper—being completely cut off from family, friends, society, and presumably—God!
Imagine the mental and emotional pain!
Who are the lepers in our community?
Who are the outcasts?
Who are the ostracized?
I’m sure we can think of many.
There are those who are outcasts in schools and on playgrounds because they can’t quit fit-in with the other children.
There are those who are outcast and ostracized because they suffer from mental disabilities.
There are those who are ostracized and isolated because they are poor and possibly homeless.
In the book A Generation Alone, one of the authors worked extensively with Vietnam vets, recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder…
…which is a condition resulting from a stressful incident beyond the normal functioning range of human experience…
…like combat, terrorism, genocide, torture, rape, violence, or long-term less extreme incidents.