God’s patience and love for the lost
God’s way of communicating his heart to us is through his word. It’s his way of talking to us. When we are finding it tough to connect with non-Christians, what better way to renew our passion for sharing Christ than to go back to the Bible and find out anew God’s heart for the lost? There are so many passages we could talk about, but here are just a few.
A common theme in Jesus’ life was the Pharisees grumbling against what Jesus was doing. This happened in response to Jesus living out his heart for the lost many times.
In one story the Pharisees accused Jesus by saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” In response to this accusation Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7. He said, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” Doesn’t this so beautifully show the heart of God for the lost?
Not only does the shepherd consider finding the 1 lost sheep to be more important to him than the 99 sheep he already has in his flock, but he rejoices when it’s found. I heard one person say once that this rejoicing is not a jumping up and down and dancing kind of joy, but rather a lasting joy of pleasure and heartfelt satisfaction at a child come home. I love that picture.
Another passage is the well-known story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Jesus is passing through Jericho and sees the eagerness which Zacchaeus has to meet him. As a result, Jesus goes to stay with him. The people’s response was the same as in Luke 15. They said, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (v7). Jesus response was to say very simply why he was on earth – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (v10). He doesn’t say, “I came to spend time with the saved or have dinner with people I feel comfortable with.”
While he does spend time with his disciples and others who are already followers of him, that is not his priority. His primary purpose is to “seek and to save the lost” and to prepare those who followed him to do the same when he has left them. When we look at the interactions of Jesus in this light, it changes everything, doesn’t it? He is either engaged in seeking and saving the lost, or he is mentoring his followers (both his disciples and us!) how they can do the same.
Lastly let’s look at 2 Peter 3:9 where Peter says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” We can see that in God’s great design for humanity his heart is that no one should perish. Should this not also be at the centre of our desires?
Is your passion for evangelism fading? I encourage you to spend some time each week finding the heart of God for the lost in his word to us. Use Google if you need to but search the Bible and you will be amazed at how full it is of God’s heart to reach out to those who don’t know him. After all, that is the story of the Bible isn’t it? God’s great design and plan to draw us back to him as his children.