By Wayne D. Hannah
Director of Missions
Blue Ridge Baptist Association
The fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke is the Bible’s lost and found department.
This passage of scripture has often been the basis for many sermons about the need of salvation for those who had never accepted the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. Yet, the message is really about those who have claimed a belief in Jesus, but were not actively living the faith like the sheep that had strayed away from the fold.
The point is that the sheep that strayed had already been a part of the flock. The coin that was lost had already been in the possession of the woman. The son who became the prodigal had been a part of the family.
Therefore, in this chapter of lost and found, we get the picture of Jesus’ concern for those who had been a part of the family, but had now become separated from himself and his family.
But it is also a message for the faithful in the church to realize the importance of reclaiming the multitudes of the straying members who had once been active participants of the fellowship of faith.
The question for the faithful in the church is: “Why have they strayed?” This is not a concern for those who have become inactive members or prodigals who have given up on worship, ministry and service altogether.
Some have strayed because things did not go the way they wanted. Some may have been offended by something that had been said or some position they did not get that they thought they deserved. Others perhaps felt not accepted or rejected.
There could have been an unlimited number of reasons, yet it is the responsibility of the church to seek them out, regardless of the reasons. In all these situations, there was rejoicing when what had been missing was restored. May there be great rejoicing in our churches because many who have been missing from our churches have been reclaimed.