[The final piece of this topic on Outer Circle Christians. You’ll find the entire essay here…]
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10
“Doesn’t she light a lamp?”
The woman lights candle, not so the coin can see her, but so she can see it. In the same way the Holy Spirit helps us find trashed yet treasured people and empowers us to bring them back to their rightful Owner.
We Christians suffer from degenerative vision. We don’t see the people around us very well, especially Outer Circle people, the ones least like us. We’ve lost sight of lost people in our world and fail to see their eternal value to God. We light a lamp but we still can’t see those around us, because we let the Spirit shine only on us in our own Inner Circle churches. We tend to care only about what he can do for us and not for the coins we’ve lost.
We rationalize our ostentatious efforts and expenditures as an attempt to get people to look at us and be impressed with our captivating presentation, which will indirectly and eventually lead them to Jesus. In my opinion, it usually just leads them to our church and not so much to Jesus. If we’re going to ask the Spirit to shine his light, we should be prepared to hold his beam out in front of us where it belongs. There we’ll see his buried treasure the way the Lord sees them, and we’ll go out of our way to captivate them with the winsome love of Jesus instead of our impressive properties and programs.
“She sweeps the house and searches carefully…”
The woman is determined to find her coin. It’s my opinion that we’re way too casual about searching out and lifting lost people out of the dust. Of course we aren’t equipped or called to save anyone, but the Spirit will help us find them, love them, and bring them to Jesus who will do the saving.
She sweeps and searches carefully because the lost coin is “her coin.” If the woman in the parable represents us (the Church), then we’re the “losers” in the parable. In one sense, the coin was ours and we lost it. As inadequate representatives of Jesus we’ve misplaced many silver souls over the centuries. I wish I had a silver coin for every time I’ve been told, “I used to go to church. And while I like Jesus; I just can’t stand the Church!” Another coin lost to a careless Church.
Not only did we “lose” them to begin with, but we also lose out on the benefit of having them among us. Each treasured soul that’s missing is not only lost to heaven but to our family here on earth. Like silver coins, every person possesses enormous value to God and also to us, even – and maybe especially – eccentric Outer Circlers; and it’s our responsibility to find all lost coins within the reach of our broom and bring them home. The menial task of sweeping is never beneath Outer Circle saints. It’s our privilege to don our work clothes and swing our broom till we uncover dirty yet dear coins and bring them home to the Lord who carefully washes clean and polishes each one till the King’s image stamped at birth is restored.
“Doesn’t she sweep and search … until she finds it?”
In our search for lost coins we give up too soon. We don’t sweep and search with the same sort of persistence as the woman in the parable. We make a trifling effort and call it a day – “No coins here!” Outer Circlers see what others don’t and are willing to sweep where others won’t until they find the ones most hopelessly lost. They realize that God is on a friendship quest and joining him in his passionate pursuit of people is their most sublime joy.
As in each of the three parables, the woman throws a party and “calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’”
Back to where I began when I was talking about our tendency on the not-so-merry-go-round to fight our way to the middle where we’re not so affected by the centrifugal force pushing us outward. Spinning round and round in the sequestered center is less scary but more sickening. But the Spirit insists on compelling us toward the outer edge and away from the center of our own little world. Though he gifts us variously and calls each of us to different fields of service, he does push each of us beyond our comfort zones and outward to the margins of society. He’s looking for Outer Circle Christians.