Friday, January 21, 2011

Joy in Heaven

Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

7 λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὕτως χαρὰ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἔσται ἐπὶ ἑνὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ μετανοοῦντι ἢ ἐπὶ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα δικαίοις οἵτινες οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν μετανοίας.

I want to write about this verse because it is one that pains me almost every time I see it. You know how hearing a song may remind you of an awkward moment at a junior high dance? Or maybe seeing a landmark reminds you of a time in your life when you did or said something you regret? Reading this verse does that to me.

Here Jesus is in the great "lost" parables of Luke 15. If you want to know the love of Christ this is a great place to go. Here you see the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (otherwise known as the parable of the Prodigal Son). The point is that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. In other words, people like me.

I cam remember reading this verse in my limbo state where I made a confession of faith, but I was still living in habitual sin. I think I was converted because I had the Holy Spirit working in my life to convict me of sin and lead me to repentance. Nevertheless, I was pretty arrogant with the head knowledge I had acquired. I can remember reading this verse and thinking that it did not apply to me. After all, I was in the fold, wasn't I?

On one level, I was right. But the more I encounter this verse the more I realize how much of a wandering sheep I can be. I know my heart and I know how wicked it really is. Jeremiah wasn't kidding. It's relatively easy for me to live an outward life of godliness and my inward life isn't bad, but I know that it falls short of the command to be perfect as the Father is perfect. Fortunately, I have Christ's righteousness covering my sins.

My exhortation is to consider this verse. Where do you need to repent? How are you a wandering sheep? As you read this parable, you see that the sheep are in the fold. They are the shepherd's sheep. These are not foreign sheep that he has to acquire. In other words, I think that we can take this parable to refer to Christians. Therefore, we need to examine where we must repent.

And if you're a leader of any kind, what sheep do you need to pursue? A shepherd knows and loves his flock. Are you pursuing the wayward sheep or leaving them for the wolves?

Not an easy verse, is it?

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