In early December I was able to attend a conference in California which was focused on people groups around the world who have never heard the name “Jesus”, who have never had the Bible in their “mother tongue”, who have never had someone go to tell them about the “good news”. As of the beginning of that conference, mission researchers believe that there are still 1,347 people groups representing 41,294,542 individuals who fall into the category of unreached and unengaged.
Let me ask you to stop for just a moment and consider those statistics. For over 2,000 years, since the church began in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, we, the church, have had one primary task–to …”go…and make disciples.” And in Jesus’ instruction from Acts 1 as he ascended into heaven He says that location isn’t important. He makes it clear we are to dothe this near, there, and everywhere throughout the world–simultaneously.
So, how important are those last, lost souls to us? If we truly searched deeply in our hearts what priority would we place on them? Most likely, the thought process would go something like this: “Obviously, they are important and someone should go to share the gospel with them. We should pray for God to send someone to them.”
Jesus in Luke 15 talks about the importance of one–the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. He spoke these parables to the religious leaders of the day, the “church” folks. In Luke 15:4, Jesus uses the parable of the lost sheep to indicate that the Father would leave the 99 in “open country” where they would be susceptible to thieves, wild animal attacks and adverse weather conditions in order to go find the one that is lost. That goes against our normal way of thinking. Leave the 99? Why?
The reason: they are already safe. Basically, the Father is indicating that the 99 are my sheep, they know my voice, they are in my fold, they are eternally mine! The lost sheep is headed to death being on their own apart from me. These “lost” ones are on the Father’s heart–they are made in His image, they are His creation, they are whom He is concerned about day and night. Thus, as we keep reading in Luke 15, there is a party in heaven when those lost sheep are found.
Have you, as a parent, ever found that one of your children has wandered off? If so, you know that panic that sets in immediately as you become fearful for what might happen to your child. Beth and I can vividly remember a time when our twin daughters, Kristen and Kendra, went off exploring on their own. Even just thinking about that experience quickens my pulse as those emotions return. Those are the same emotions that our Heavenly Father goes through as He knows the end of those who are not safe in His care.
If we want to be on the same page that our Heavenly Father is on, then we need to be as concerned about the lost sheep, the unreached people groups in our world, as He is. We should rejoice and party when one lost sheep is found. There are still lost sheep in our world and the Father is using us to find them! The task isn’t complete and we shouldn’t rest, relax, or be comfortable until it is.
In our next post we will talk specifics of how you can be involved in finishing the task that we, the church, have been given. Also, from the Finishing the Task conference, I posted a video which shares a little of the impact that I was feeling while there. You can find it here if you would like to view it.
“Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” –Luke 10:2b , ESV