If you’re following along with the ministry of Jesus, He spoke of seeking — searching for with all your might and with urgency — only two things. He tells His followers to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) which feels like a given since people are wanting to participate in the good and powerful rule and reign of a good and powerful God, but the only other thing that Jesus says to seek in the same manner is …
As much as we as church planters would love for Jesus to have focused on some other seemingly important parts of starting a church and leading congregant life, He never swerved from seeking these two things: His Kingdom and the One.
And according to His series of parables in Luke 15, describing this seeking of the one, or the lost one, Jesus describes the One as those who
1.) are far from the One who deems their great worth and value (the woman searching for her valuable one lost coin, the shepherd searching for his valuable one lost sheep, and the father searching for his valuable one lost son)
2.) have the potential to recognize how far from home they are (the lost son makes his way home)
3.) are worth leaving the larger group at hand in order to search for (the shepherd leaves the ninety nine sheep to look for the one lost sheep)
Jesus starts off his series on the One when a group of religious leaders and law keepers accuse him of doing something wrong by dining with a group of “sinners” – those whom the society at hand valued as “not good” or “not right” or “not worthy.” Jesus’ response is that the people who are well are not in need of a physician but those who recognize that there might be something wrong.
What Jesus Valued
He places an immense value on people’s growing recognition of how far from home they are. He places immense value in moving towards those who are lost, which requires moving away from those who already recognize their connection with God, and He does so in normal-part-of-ordinary-life kinds of ways, like eating with them and spending intentional time with them.
The religious leaders’ shock was found not in the fact that Jesus was spending time with folks who are in need, but that Jesus chose NOT to spend time with the leaders. And then Jesus invites them to capture what God’s heart is like for people through these parables.
In our pursuit to have a heart for the One, take a moment to read through Luke 15:11-32 again, and instead of focusing on the younger brother, it’s worth comparing the heart of the father and the older brother.
Whose heart do you resonate with most — the Father’s heart for the One or the older brother’s heart for the One?
In our own missional community, we compared the hearts of the Father and that of the older brother towards the lost younger brother, and here’s a starting list of what we came up with together:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the differences between the Father’s heart and the Older Brother’s heart for the lost One, but whose heart we begin to adopt really determines the way in which we engage with others around us. And strikingly, it reveals not only our heart towards those who are far away, but our own view of God.
Now, it’s one thing to be able to identify that there’s a difference between the heart of the father and the heart of the older brother, and even that there’s a desire to have more of the heart for the One instead of being against others. But, how do we turn the One from a character in a story to the Ones in our own real contexts? Who are the One and where are they?
Porches, Pathways, Pivots
Once we connect with the heart of the Father for the One, then we discover that the Father’s heart extends out to the One in our day to day. In JR Woodward’s and Dan White Jr’s The Church as Movement, they offer a unique way of thinking about our day to day via “porches, pathways, and pivots”. Who are the One we interact with in our homes and neighborhoods (apartments, condominiums, street, etc)? Who are the One we encounter in our regular pathways and commutes (regular walks, taking our dogs out, runs, grocery stops, elevators, etc)? Who are the One we see in our pivots or places of gatherings (school, office, gym, cafe, sports league, parks, mall, breweries, etc)?
Whose names would you put in each category and begin to ask the Father for His heart for the One in your day to day?
In beginning to actively write out this list of people we encounter in each of our day to day in our missional community, we started seeing that God’s heart for others isn’t limited to just those who come into our services or church gatherings, but He is seeking for the One in the midst of our own day to days … in He is constantly inviting us into seeking the One in partnership with Him.
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