“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?” Jesus (Luke 15)
This is part of a parable Jesus told some people who were called Pharisees and teachers of the religious law. Luckily, no one like these people exists today. These people believed they were always right. They thought they and they alone did everything exactly the way it was supposed to be done. They also devalued and ridiculed everyone they thought were not as correct as they were. They could get away with this because they had the power and the influence.
Jesus, on the other hand, was getting a reputation for attracting a rather diverse crowd. People that the Pharisees wouldn’t even speak to were flocking to hear Jesus, and he often invited them to eat with him (which was simply NOT done by anyone who was anyone). One day Jesus was talking to a crowd which included “notorious” sinners, and the Pharisees were complaining about it. So, Jesus told them a story:
A dude with a hundred sheep notices that one of them is lost. So, he leaves the others, putting them at risk I might add, and goes to search for the lost one. He eventually finds it and carries it home on his shoulders. Then he calls up all his friends and invites them to a Bar-B-Que (no, they didn’t eat the lost sheep) to celebrate the rescue of the lost one. Then Jesus says, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”
The best part of this story is that the Pharisees don’t get the sarcasm. They were sinners too. They were lost too. Jesus was looking for them too. They thought they were right, but they were wrong. They just didn’t know it, and they are were denial about their own situation. Jesus doesn’t care more about lost sheep and less about the “right” ones. There are no right ones.
I was sarcastic earlier too. People like this do exist today. People like me. I often believe that I am right and other people are wrong, and if I am not very careful this can lead me to be judgmental and devaluing. As an important aside, I am not saying that there is no right and wrong. I am saying that we are all right some of the time, and we are all wrong some of the time, and if we are found today, we could be lost tomorrow.
In the story of the lost sheep, Jesus is talking about people who are eternally lost. He came to find and rescue the lost. There were people in his day who didn’t think they were lost. They were convinced they didn’t need to be found or saved. They thought they had already saved themselves and found their own way home. They were wrong. We all need saving.
We find ourselves in a time when everyone seems to be sure they are not lost. Many people are claiming to be right and then judging, devaluing, and ridiculing those they think are wrong. Each of us is within our rights to have opinions and beliefs. Each of us has the right to espouse those things, to stand for those things, and even to strive for those things. We do not have the right to devalue those we don’t agree with. We do not have the right to view those who have different opinions and beliefs as less than or to treat them with disrespect, or worse, hate.
I have lived long enough to have changed my mind several times. As I look back, I am sorry to my core that at times I hurt others for an idea I no longer hold to be true. I’m not sorry for the beliefs I held, just for the way I treated others when they didn’t agree with me. In fact, striving for something is often how I discovered that what I was striving for was off target. Hurting people shouldn’t be part of the journey.
At Kimray, we say that ideas compete, but not people. The reality of our uncertain position should be the catalyst for us to treat others with the same care, concern, and compassion that we would want when we become lost and need to be found. That is the way of the shepherd, and that is The Kimray Way.