[I recommend that you take a look at the 1st and 2nd posts or if you’d prefer to view the entire essay you can find it on my website.]
JESUS IS AN OUTER CIRCLE SEEKING SAVIOR
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:3-7
The Messiah that the Pharisees and other God experts made up in their minds would choose them for his Inner Circle. They were the best “Christians” in town, so certainly they would be his Generals while all the actual bad people wouldn’t even make it in his army. That’s why they couldn’t understand what he was doing eating meals with LGBTs and lazy drug addicted homeless people – oops – I meant “sinners and tax collectors.”
His lost sheep story meant that he came especially for Outer Circle types, the people least likely to succeed in society and in the Church. “I’m not willing to give all my attention to you,” implied Jesus, “I gotta go out and find people who have totally lost their way.” He doesn’t just accept outsiders, he goes way out of his way and chases after them! The ninety-nine ought to be mature enough to not need his constant attention. It was the disoriented sheep that were incessantly on his mind. “Don’t make this flock all about you guys! There are wandering sheep out there; and I’ve got to go find them and bring them back.”
We tend to think that we’re the good people and that it only makes sense that he would treat us with special attention. Of course, he does treat us kindly and with great care, but in his parable the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine, not in an oasis, but “in the open country” while he goes after lost lambs. I don’t mean to imply that God has a limited capability to attend to all his creation at once. We know that he’s omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, but we should also remember that he’s a Shepherd on a mission to recover wandering and disoriented sheep. We’re not the only ones on his mind. He’s relentless about locating and luring back to the flock every lost lamb that will let him carry them home.
Much unlike us so-called Inner Circle Christians, it’s the ones on society’s margins to whom he gives special attention. He doesn’t just welcome them into our clubhouse when they come in their own power, but searches them out and carries those who can’t walk for themselves. He carries the ones who need carrying, the rest he invites to join him in his passionate pursuit of hobbled lambs.
“Yeah, but isn’t it their fault that they can’t walk? They ran off and tried to live without the shepherd, so shouldn’t he make them walk home? I mean, no one held them down and pumped drugs into their veins. They’re poor because they won’t work. If they’re gay they chose to be gay. (Well, maybe or maybe not. I don’t know, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard people say.).” But do you think Jesus even cares how people got themselves in their predicaments? Does he have a probationary period for those who wandered out of his pasture and needed to be carried home? It seems to me that it’s the ninety-nine with the greater responsibility to stay close to the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake and then join him in his loving project to gently carry the wanderers home.
“Does he not…go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”
He’s not sitting on his hands, waiting for people to come home. He seeks relentlessly “until” he finds that one lost lamb. He maybe patient, yet it couldn’t accurately be said that he’s in any way passive about bringing the cast offs home. God is the ultimate missionary. He’s more obsessed about bringing his children back home, so if you want to be near him you’ll have to join him on his recovery missions.
He’s an Outer Circle Savior. If you fancy yourself an Inner Circle saint will just have to get used to it.
If you’re an Outer Circler with unconverted Outer Circle acquaintances and friends (people who, if there were a vote on the least likely to be sane and/or successful) pray for them today and for yourself to share God’s love with them asap.
If you’re an Outer Circler with Inner Circle friends, you might consider passing this on to them.