A golfer, playing a round by himself, is about to tee off, and a greasy little salesman runs up to him, and yells, "Wait! Before you tee off, I have something really amazing to show you!"
The golfer, annoyed, says, "What is it?"
"It's a special golf ball," says the salesman. "You can never lose it!"
"Whattaya mean," scoffs the golfer, "you can never lose it? What if you hit it into the water?"
"No problem," says the salesman. "It floats, and it detects where the shore is, and spins towards it."
"Well, what if you hit it into the woods?"
"Easy," says the salesman. "It emits a beeping sound, and you can find it with your eyes closed."
"Okay," says the golfer, impressed. "But what if your round goes late and it gets dark?"
"No problem, sir, this golf ball glows in the dark! I'm telling you, you can never lose this golf ball!"
The golfer buys it at once. "Just one question," he says to the salesman. "Where did you get it?"
"I found it!"
Maybe someday someone will invent a golf ball that can never be lost, but until then we will all have to deal with losing things -- golf balls, car keys, glasses, etc. We also have to deal with a lost humanity. I find it interesting that the one term Jesus used most often to describe those who are outside of Christ is the word "lost".
In Luke 15, Jesus elaborated on this idea by telling three parables -- the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost (prodigal) son. The point has often been made that those three parables demonstrate three different ways of being lost -- through unintentional wandering (the sheep), through the negligence of someone else (the coin), or through willful disobedience (the son).
However, the point of those three parables is not so much about our lostness as they are about the fact that our God is willing to search for us and bring us back into a relationship with Him. If we will truly see the world around us as "lost", it will change our perspective as well. Think about the last time you knew of a child that was missing. When a child is lost, we don't ask what race the child is. It doesn't matter -- the child is lost! We don't ask the child's economic status. It doesn't matter -- the child is lost! We don't ask what the child may or may not have done wrong. It doesn't matter -- the child is lost! All that matters is that we find that child and bring him/her home safely.
Seeing a world around us as "lost" will change the way we see them. The scribes and Pharisees looked at the tax collectors and sinners and saw terrible, ugly people. Jesus saw people who were lost. All that mattered to him was that he bring them home safely.
"For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
Father, thank you for diligently searching for me and for bringing me home to you. Fill me with your love so that I may care enough to seek out those around me who are lost. In Jesus' name, amen.