The Lost and Found

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When we think in terms of what it means for man to be lost, we are immediately confronted with the fact that it is as sad a description as could ever be given to human beings. A sick person may get well; a crippled person may adjust to his infirmity; an indebted person may pay off his debt; an illiterate person may educate himself. But something lost has severed all connections. It is out of touch, out of reach, out of reality, gone. Lost implies interest and desire but no ability to locate. When something is lost it is disconnected from its owner. And, when someone is lost, there is a twofold negative affect because not only is the person who suffered the loss miserable, but also the lost person. Both are dissatisfied, frustrated and incomplete. Yet, Scripture repeatedly describes man as being lost.

Man is described as lost because we are disconnected from God's purpose for our lives. We are out of touch with our Creator, out of tune with divine order, disconnected from our Source.

Each human life has a divine purpose. It is inherent in our very essence. When God blew into us the "breath of life," purpose was intermingled in with all the other elements that formed our humanity. Think about it. Man was to have rule over the earth, but instead we have neglected the earth and we cannot even rule ourselves. Man was created for fellowship with each other and our creator God, but we are hostile towards each other and have turned our backs on our God. We are indeed lost.

The reason for our "lost-ness" is clear in scripture. We are created to live as God's children. But somewhere along the line, we decided that we preferred being the parent and not the child. One can observe this truth in almost every parent-child relationship. The child begins to resent being the child. He/she desires the power or authority to do as she/he wants and will "act out" in a plethora of abberant ways to try to get what he/she wants. They lack the mental ability to understand the larger picture. Such is man. We want to play God. This is sin. All of our sinful behaviors is only symptomatic of our purposeful rebellion against submitting to the will of our parent; God.

Now, let's translate this idea into our own experience and see if this is not indeed, exactly the way we are. Ask yourself, how many times you get an "attitude" or a defiant change in behavior when someone does not do what you want them to or behave as you think they should? This is one of the reasons so many marriages dissolve these days. Each partner wants things their way and is not willing to make provisions for the other. We see it in our homes, on our jobs, in our schools, communities and government. Everywhere people are clamoring to be God. Even when we get sanctimonious and claim to be trying to do God's will, we have this uncanny proclivity to make God's will coincide with what we wanted to do all along. Thus, we are still at the center of our own lives. It is interesting that this is something peculiar only to human beings. A tree cannot sin; neither does a lion or a rabbit or a rhinoceros. But man does because God equipped us with capabilities that nature and animals do not have; and we fight against using them as we should. In so doing, we alienate ourselves from God and each other.

If we refuse to accept the fact that God created us for the high destiny of fellowship with Him, then it logically follows that we will not be inclined to believe others were created for that destiny either. If we do not perceive others as children of God, then we need not be concerned about them or what happens to them. In fact, if the opportunity presents itself, we may even try to use and manipulate others for our own selfish purposes. We become "things" or "toys" to each other and are therefore separated from each other as human beings. We are all trying to play the part of God against each other and rule over others. The result is disaster. Thus, we are lost and cannot find our way back home.

We are "lost" because we cannot find our own self-realization and expression apart from God. Think about this: we are never fully satisfied for very long. Happiness only last a moment and security is always threatened. Joy is ephemeral and we are always seeking, longing, dreaming, wishing, and hoping for that which only create greater yearnings. We are forever knocking on doors that never open, walking on thin ice, grasping for straws, barking up wrong trees, living on past pains and remembrances. We are so entangled and enmeshed in sin and wrongdoing that we cannot set the situation right by ourselves. We are caught up in a never-ending treadmill struggle and we are doomed to remain in it. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, we are lost and there is no escape? unless somehow, someone comes to help us.

Well, man is separated from God because of God's nature and holiness. God is separated from man because of man?s sin and rebellion. So you see, this creates an impregnable impasse. Someone is needed as a go-between, so to speak; a mediator, if you will.

Who could represent man to God when man does not even know God? Who could represent God to man when man feels totally independent of God? In other words, how could the lost be found?

In His perfect wisdom, God solves the dilemma for us. God Himself became the very thing He created: MAN. Instead of expecting man to become like Him, He became man. God became man, not to excuse us, but to accept the penalties for our rebellion Himself. And in so doing, the barrier that separated us from God was destroyed and man is joined to God.

It is this human experience of God we call Jesus. Whatever Jesus was or did in His life, in His teachings, in His cross and passion, in His death and resurrection and ascension and exaltation, it was really God that did it in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18f).

While we were lost, groping helpless in the dark, God comes to meet us where we are and as we are. He comes proclaiming that no man is beyond help, no situation is beyond repair. He comes to hopeless man and makes us believe that as misbehaving and sin-prone as we are, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

As the woman in Scripture sought for a lost coin, the father sought for a lost son, the shepherd sought for a lost sheep, so God searches for every man. We don't have to look for God because we learn in His word that before we were even aware of our need, God sought us. The lost has been found.

Saundra L. Washington, an ordained clergywoman and social worker, has practiced concurrently in the fields of social work and ministry for almost three decades. She is the Founder of AMEN Ministries, and the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow, Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances, Homilies that Teach.

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