Jesus talked a lot about the “99 principle.” In a nut shell, it’s about being willing to leave the comfort and safety of those who are dialed in to God—self feeders, servants, and maturing worshippers of the most high God—to go after those who are far from God. Here are just some of the scriptures that reveal the heart of God on this matter:
12“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. Matthew 18:11–13
11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11–13
This is almost always about the need to reach those who are far from God with the gospel of Jesus. But sometimes it can refer to the heart of God to reach the wandering “believer” and reconnect him as well.
I already have a heart for those who are far from God. It’s one of the big reasons we started Soouthbrook Church. But that doesn’t mean that we give up on those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and just assume they will be fine.
A lot of the time they are not. They can wander off too. Ands one the the ways they most often do is by not connecting with other Christ followers in the local church. The scenario goes something like this…
People will come to a church like Southbrook and love the warmth and music—the relevant messages and cutting edge presentation of God’s Word. And for a while (somewhere around 6 months or so) all of that is enough for them to hang out and love their new church home. But if Sunday morning for a bout an hour is all they ever do, then it does not take long for them to disconnect and start assuming the church, pastor, worship, ministries, or even the very heart and mission of the church have all changed. At that point they begin to fade and then it’s off to the races once again. And by “races,” I mean the church hopping race to find a newer, more perfect church. It’s doomed to be an endless cycle of frustration for these folks because they don’t yet realize that the problem is in their approach to church rather than the local bodies they shop at.
It’s a little more complicated than that, and in part 2 I’ll unpack this a little more.
See you then.