Summary: A sermon that uses Jesus parable of the lost sheep and talks how one is important and the individual makes a difference

The importance of one

You matter.

One to the power of two

Ever been in a huge crowd – like at a rugby game or at some huge event.

One feeling you get in such a crowd is the littleness of who you are and your own personal insignificance.

Your sense of importance diminishes even more if you realise that almost every thing that you do someone else in the world can do better.

But one thing that no-one can do is occupy the life that you occupy and liv e in the moments that are uniquely allotted to you.

Without God of course it does all become meaningless in fact Mate Frankovich a retired Auckland District Coroner with 16 years experience and a reputation for speaking his mind on the factors he sees contributing to suicide.

"Fear of God, the Last Judgement and spending eternity in Hell, were major deterrents to suicide. That religious belief has largely gone, to be replaced in a secular society by nihilistic attitudes - there is nothing (else) out there and nothing matters."

"This loss of a sense of personal worth and meaning to life, is a critical factor. I tend to agree with Rick Stevenson of Project Hope that kids need to be given a sense of purpose and meaning."

"You are really not supposed to mention any moral or religious dimension to suicide.

I received an official unsigned letter from someone in the Ministry of Justice, saying:

'Don't foist your religious views on the public.' Whereas from an empirical point of view I am saying that if you indulge in a certain course of conduct, death will follow. A religious person would say that wages of sin is death."

The truth is God matters and indeed you matter.

Some people ask if others believe in God like it was some theory or otion or something – well of course that would be stupid. God exists. Because he exists and this world belongs to him then God is incredibly important. As the Psalmists says – The earth and everything in it belongs to the Lord.

Having established that God is who he says he is then the matter of you and me as individuals is put into a new perspective.

The bible has a lot to say about who you are and why you are important despite the teeming millions and billions of people on earth right now.

It is the worth and indeed the importance of you and me as individuals that I felt to address this morning.

Firstly you are incredibly important to God.

Matthew chapter 18

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

The importance of this passage can not be overstated. Here Jesus uses the image of a middle eastern farmer to signify our importance.

One person writes The Palestinian shepherds were experts at tracking down their lost sheep. They could follow their track for miles; and they would brave the cliffs and the precipice to bring them back.

In the time of Jesus the flocks were often communal flocks; they belonged, not to an individual, but to a village. There were, therefore, usually two or three shepherds with them. The shepherds always made the most strenuous and the most sacrificial efforts to find a lost sheep. It was the rule that, if a sheep could not be brought back alive, then at least, if it was at all possible, its fleece or its bones must be brought back to prove that it was dead.

we can imagine the shout of joy when they saw the Shepherd striding along the pathway with the weary wanderer slung across his shoulder, safe at last; and we can imagine how the whole village would welcome him, and gather round with gladness to hear the story of the sheep who was lost and found. Here we have what was Jesus' favourite picture of God and of God's love. This parable teaches us many things about that love.

The love of God is an individual love. The ninety-and-nine were not enough; one sheep was out on the hillside and the shepherd could not rest until he had brought it home. However large a family a parent has, he cannot spare even one; there is not one who does not matter. God is like that; God cannot be happy until the last wanderer is gathered in.

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