" ... perhaps you were taught, as I was taught, 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.' That is where our trouble began."
- Andy Stanley
Before I even read his defense, I got it. I get it. In my recent writing training, we are told to think of who we are writing to. I feel called to write to anyone, but I always write with the lost in mind. Yet even in saying that I reveal the truths ingrained in me from my childhood.
Praise God they were. Without the foundation of songs like Jesus Loves Me, scripture memory, and faith at a young age, I'm not sure I would have arrived at 38 with the faith that I have today. I'm not entirely sure I would have arrived at all.
Yet I can't help but spout terminology and a belief in the Bible that, to a unbeliever ... or better yet, someone who IS a believer but in something other than God, Jesus, and the Bible ... negates anything I have to say.
Because the Bible says so is great reasoning when speaking to a Christian.
It completely invalidates what you are about to say when you are speaking to a nonbeliever. A lost person. A nonChristian.
So for the next few Mondays I want to address, at least from my own perspective, why do we say some of the things we say. Starting with lost.
Amanda, I'm not lost. It is 2016. I have Google maps, Google Earth, access to global positioning satellites in the palm of my hand. I know right where I am. I know where I am going.
I know where I am on my career ladder, and I know what steps I need to take to get where I want to be.
I know how much I need to save and how I need to invest it in order to have the retirement I'm dreaming of. I'm good. Self-sufficient. I'm not lost. I don't need rescued, saved, or any of the other remedies you and others like you are pandering.
Fair enough. You have to start somewhere.
Fellow believers, don't tune out on me ... but in the effort to not start with "because the Bible tells me so" I will be referencing Biblical reasoning for why we say lost at the end.
Right now, I want to focus on the fact that we say nonChristians are lost because ... well, you are. You may not be lost on this planet. You may not be lost at work. I'm sure you are very good at what you do. You may be an awesome parent with well behaved, sweet, awesome kids who love you.
But in the spiritual realm, you are so lost you don't even know you are lost. There are no positioning satellites. There is no muse that will whisper along unseen and unheard delicately guiding your steps to success.
Your eyes can't see the spiritual realm, but I'm going to guess that, at the end of the day alone in your room, you might admit to yourself that you have encountered it one way or another. Wondering where we came from, why are we here, what happens when I die, why am I different from animals (because really, is the opposable thumb and the ability to make language THAT awesome? I love picking up spoons and talking there is so much more that separates me from any of the pets, farm animals, or wildlife I've ever observed).
You have a soul. And your soul is wandering, blind, in a realm of warfare. Angels aren't chubby cherubs floating in pink ethereal clouds ... they are armed forces, so terrible and frightening that almost every human encounter recorded begins with the words "Fear not!"
So we Christians say "lost" because without Jesus, the Holy Spirit, you have no guide. No defenses. And without the Bible you have no map. No sword. Imagine staggering onto a modern day battlefield in your bathrobe ... sand flying, you could be almost anywhere. Explosions muting sound to a muffled echo ... you wouldn't even know north from south, much less which sandy country plagued by conflict you may have wandered into. Without a gun. Without body armor. No GPS.
Back to the Bible ... the book you, as you read this, may or may not have any strong feelings about. But since I am writing about why Christians call nonChristians "lost" I'll tell you what it says.
"For the Son of Man [Jesus] has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
- Luke 19:10 (also Matthew 18:11)Jesus came to rescue the lost ... and without Him we are all lost. He SEEKS us. Imagine if you will our unprepared bathrobe soldier. Imagine a hand reaching out of the endless swirl of gritty tan. A face not of condemnation ("How did you get yourself out here? What's wrong with you?") but of invitation. Jesus often dined with sinners. Imagine He invites our soldier to refresh himself. Sit down. Listen to what I have to offer, are you thirsty?
When the lost are found, Jesus doesn't laugh and gloat. There is rejoicing. Celebration. Welcome home to the home you didn't even realize you were missing, found one!
"What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish."
- Matthew 18:12-14 (also Luke 15:4-7)
"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
- Luke 15:8-10Lost isn't an insult to your orienteering abilities. It is empathy. Any Christian was previously spiritually lost. Would you take a chance a look at the map and risk realizing your bathrobe is flapping open with a dangerous desert war waging around you?
(If you are anyone who has ever wondered "Why do Christians say ...?" Please shoot me an email! Maybe God will provide you an answer through me. I would be honored.)