Jesus Comes to Call Sinners and Find the Lost Sheep
Never feel unworthy; no matter your background, God has a calling on your life too
Never feel unworthy; no matter your background, God has a calling on your life too
I’ve been thinking a lot about sin this Lenten season since now is such an appropriate time to do that. This has caused me to reflect on what a blessing it is to have Christ in my life, to seek Him out and try to follow Him as best I can. A life with Christ is so much more fulfilling than the alternative.
And I’ve also been reflecting on how grateful I am for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sins. I‘m embarrassed at how much I need that, because much to my great shame, I have many sins that I’m trying and failing to overcome. My battle with sin feels humiliating because I can’t seem to progress despite my prayers and repentance. It feels like I’m asking forgiveness for the same things every day!
But thank God that I’m not where I used to be and no longer doing the things I used to. It’s only by the infinite grace of God that I’m still here; yes, God does grant us every day of life that we have … but that’s not what I’m referring to! So when I look at the big picture, there has indeed been major progress, and it’s all thanks to Christ.
Forgiveness is ours in Christ
What a blessing it is to be forgiven and accepted when you turn back to Jesus. I wonder if the “good people,” who were always faithful Christians and didn’t lead a life of sin before finding Christ, even appreciate the blessing of this forgiveness in the same way that we sinners do.
But the fact is, almost everyone has a history and something in their past that they’re not proud of, good Christians included. So most people should be able to relate. But whatever it may be, there’s no need to despair. Just the opposite: There’s cause for hopeful joy because all sinners who repent their ways and go back to Christ receive forgiveness.
I recently wrote another post on the subject of God’s forgiveness, which you can read here. To sum it up, don’t ever feel like Jesus will not accept you if you repent. We have a God Who forgives and there is no sin that is too great for Him to forgive; His sacrifice on the cross is more powerful than any sin. If we repent, we will be forgiven.
Christ comes to call sinners
Now I’m moving beyond that to say that Christ doesn’t only love and accept us sinners, He’s calling us! Yes, that’s right, us! It’s exactly as it says in Mark 2:
When some of the legal experts from among the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why is he eating with sinners and tax collectors?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.” (Mark 2:16–17, CEB)
And I give thanks to God that in the past six months or so I’ve been feeling that. I truly do feel called. And by that, I mean I’m compelled to do more than going to church every week, more than reading my Bible each day. I have to get out there and live out the gospel the best I can. Never in my life have I felt such intense motivation to passionately embrace my Christianity, reform my ways, seek to follow Christ every day, and tell others about it. I, a sinner, have been called.
My writing on Medium is one aspect of this too. I started posting in November. One year ago I never would have imagined that I would now be writing Christian content on the internet, but here I am. I kept hearing that call and had to respond. And Medium is only the beginning, because I know I’m also called to do more than write.
The Good Shepherd goes out to look for the one lost sheep
It seems so unbelievable that a sinner like me would ever be called this way. I felt like: “Me?! Are You serious Jesus? Why?” Like so many of us, I too am oftentimes too down on myself and think that I can’t do anything or won’t do a good job. So I also felt like: “Isn’t there someone better to do this work?” because I’m well aware of my past sins and feel like there must be many people more faithful and capable than me out there who can do these things.
If you ever feel called, and you know it, I imagine you’ll also experience some if not all these emotions and reactions too. That goes especially for anyone with a past they’re not proud of.
Well, this is how great our Savior is. First, as to the question of doing a good job with our calling or not, God knows all our strengths and weaknesses and every talent that we have because everything we have comes from God. So God wants to make use of everybody’s skills and abilities for His glory. Of course, that includes yours and mine.
As for any feelings of not being good enough to answer that call, my first response would be to consider the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:
What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones. (Matthew 18:12–14, CEB)
Yes, you are good enough to answer that call — we all are! Because God has a calling on all of us, and every person has a great part to play in God’s plan. Look, God is plenty happy about the ninety-nine righteous people who don’t get lost but even happier about the one sinner who comes back to the Good Shepard, Jesus Christ. It’s a joyous occasion, and no words exist to describe the feeling of being that one sheep that Jesus went out to look for. I wish I could explain that, but it’s something one can only experience, not read about.
He instructs sinners in His ways
Once we come back to Jesus though, that’s when our work begins. When we come back to Jesus and get baptized (if not already), the Holy Spirit inside us starts waking up and we start getting an ‘education’ of sorts. These lessons come internally. Remember these words from Psalm 25:8: “[the LORD] instructs sinners in His ways.” In my personal experience, these come in the form of realizations gained through prayerful reflection. But everyone hears the voice of God their own way.
Once this process starts, now it’s no longer okay to fall back on our old ways. This is when we need to seek out Christ our way, to seek a stronger relationship with Him all the time. He is the one who can help us in this education and teach us how to turn our lives around so we can fulfill our calling. We can’t go backward! The devil is the one who wants us to go backward, back to where we used to be. We must remember where we came from and why we left. There is only one way forwards for us, and that is Jesus Christ our Savior.
Once a person starts following Christ and receiving the education, I’d say the call comes not too long afterward. We must have no fear about answering that call, whether or not we feel ready; have faith that Jesus is with us and will help us as needed so that we can mature in Christ as we proceed with our works meant to glorify Him. Eventually, we’ll mature to the point where we don’t need our hands held as much. Along the way, we’ll learn through experience and get better at whatever it is we’re called to do.
And once we answer that call and walk farther and farther down that path, that’s when we start seeing the gist of God’s plan for us, and how glorious God is. That’s when we can start living a fulfilling life that many of us never expected to have. That’s a gift that comes from accepting Jesus Christ into our lives and living our lives following with His teachings.
Answer that call
If you’re a sinner or used to be, don’t be surprised if you too hear God calling you one day, not only to be a Christian but to do something in particular for God. If you feel unworthy, remember that many characters in the Bible felt the same, even Moses. And also remember that God always takes the bad from a situation and turns it to good. Nothing pleases and glorifies God more than a sinner repenting, reforming, and changing their path to follow Christ.
The Good Shepard went out to look for the one lost sheep. God the Father doesn’t want to lose a single one. So when we are lost there’s one direction we can turn to find our way again: Jesus Christ. Then when we go back to Jesus and learn how to follow Him, that’s when our true work starts. It will feel unfamiliar and be a learning experience, but we all have a loving guide and best friend watching us from above and ready to help; we’re never alone in this.
So answer that call when it comes, no matter who you used to be. The way isn’t free of troubles, and Christ never promised that either, but it feels good to know you’re following the path that God intended for you, and you’re walking it together with Christ.
This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, and fun.