There are passages of the bible I understand in a “churchy” good Christian “corporate” kind of way. The taught understanding – the “cultural understanding” – the tradition of Christian life. Like these verses:
“Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”” Luke 15:3-7
I have always seen “congregations” as the flock and sheep mentioned. Those already saved and on the way to heaven. One of us. I have always read these verses with a small voice commentating in the background. “What kind of straying is Jesus talking about … is this a self-imposed “losing” on the part of the lost sheep … how far/wide/long does the “leaving” and looking have to go/take … and what about the “ninety-nine” good folk while all this is going on … ?”
My head gets it – but bypasses my heart – and my head goes straight to investment and return.
I received an email yesterday which seems to have prompted a different take on the verses this morning.
Because this morning I do not see “good Christians”, nor “churchy understanding”, nor “Christian tradition”. This morning I simply see “need”. This morning I simply feel “need”. This morning I read these verses and find myself asking … “how can we help” … “what is needed” … and … “which of us is the key to unlocking a closed door” …
This morning my heart gets it – it bypasses my head – and goes straight to love.
This morning I see the hundred sheep as “all of us” everywhere. Not just the church brigade, not just the ones like us, not even the ones close to us – or far away – or another category of “easy need” we can address with our wallets. But “all of us” connected as one in One of One. All of us who live and breathe the same air of this neat little planet we inhabit.
And something else … Before this morning I have always seen these verses almost as a solo activity – a shepherd and one sheep. A church activity for a church member. A “save their soul” kind of activity. This morning I don’t see a difference between body, mind and soul. Saved/unsaved. Near/far. Worthy/unworthy. We are all just a person/people who is just a person/people. In need.
This morning I know Jesus always got the “straight to heart stuff” that I struggle with. And I wonder just why I struggle with that still. I wonder why my “love is always the answer” and “GSHJ” handles still hide so much of my “head stuff” of investment and return.
And – most of all – I simply rejoice that He never gives up on me (as I so often give up on others). And is that, I wonder, the greatest lesson of all? Along with this …
Now can I go from “heart back to head”?
Because unless I do, all that happens is that I sit here and spout lots of words. And that is not very helpful to anyone. And when I get back to “head from heart” – that (for me) is where He speaks solutions. My head is where action comes from – my head is the practical and useful stuff – the actual “helping” (rather than just the empathising and sympathising) – my head is where He speaks practical words that I can hear.
And one final thing …
This morning I finally see that a response is NOT always (ever?) a solo activity. Because when it comes to help – we all CAN – if we are INVITED. Because each of us is a piece of the same universal jigsaw. And we are all connected and we are all necessary. Every single one of us is NEEDED. Because all of us have something unique to offer each other.
I think that email last night and these verses today was His key to unlock a(nother) door in my heart.