“Identifying The Hopelessly Lost (Laura, This Needs To Stop!)”

So what do you think? What do you picture in your mind when you hear “The Hopelessly Lost”? People with tattoos or motorcycles or unusual clothes and hair? They probably wouldn’t really be on very many lists. (But to be honest, I do see some of them still popping up unexpectedly in my own thoughts.) There just has to be someone though, right? Maybe a meth addict who is just a shadow of who they once were? Maybe a ragged homeless person with an empty gaze? Maybe a passed out alcoholic? Surely there have to be somebody who we could call one of “The Hopelessly Lost.”

Maybe we need to understand how we are using the word “Lost.” There is the “Amazing Grace” kind of “Lost” like a ship on the sea, not knowing where to go. There is the “Jesus Parables” kind of “Lost” like with something loved, wanted, and valued as in Luke Chapter 15. Nowhere is there a completely and bizarrely different “Lost” based on outward appearance the way that Laura is using this word. Nowhere is the situation described as “Hopeless.”

Yet how many people choose not to attend church because they will be judged by their outward appearance?

I have always thought of myself as just a very ordinary average looking guy in the crowd, yet I remember once visiting a large church where I was the only man there with a beard. No one even had a mustache! No facial hair at all. I had the white shirt, tie, and King James Bible, but I was not clean shaven. I felt really awkward, like all eyes were on me to say “You don’t belong here.” Yet nobody said a word to me. No greeting. Nothing. So I can begin to imagine what someone with a non-traditional or non-conservative appearance might be feeling before stepping through the door at some churches!

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NASB)

So only God can see what really matters, the heart. If we are to see the heart at all, I think it is only what He chooses to let us see, and then only those things that will move us with compassion and love, not criticism.

If you hesitate or avoid going to church because there might be some Tidy List Makers there, please remember this. It’s NOT their church. It belongs to Jesus. He paid for it with His own blood. (Acts 20:28) I really do believe He’s saying to you just like He said to me, “You just get yourself in there, and you sit anywhere in there that you want. Just don’t scare the kids.” (A white shirt and tie can be very scary when everyone else has on polo shirts, cargo shorts, and flip flops.)

What should we see when we look at that meth addict, that passed out alcoholic, that homeless ragged person? I believe we are to see the image of God Himself in all people, even in someone who might be mislabeled “The Hopelessly Lost.”

What if the farther we push ourselves away from anyone with a label like “The Hopelessly Lost,” the farther we push ourselves away from God?

15 thoughts on ““Identifying The Hopelessly Lost (Laura, This Needs To Stop!)”

  1. Good one! Sunday our subject was “Where is Jesus now?” and our pastor shared the quote by Mother Teresa “First we meditate on Jesus, then we go out and look for Him in disguise.” … in the poor, the hungry, the sick and the ragged. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You nailed it in that last line which beautifully sums up Jesus’ Matthew 25 parable of the sheep and goats… you saw me passed out in an alley and wrote me off, I refused drug rehab and you gave up on me, I smelled bad and you did not offer me your pew…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chuck. I appreciate that. It’s sort of like the things that may make someone “the least of these” may change, but the principles that should guide our actions shouldn’t. (That could so easily be me or someone I know.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When you talked about hopelessly lost it made me think about family I have who don’t accept help and are happy with their destructive situations. I appreciate the mentioning of the other piece where you might feel that way sometimes visiting church because you are out of place for some reason. I know I’ve felt the same anxiety at times related to my children, is my baby going to be too loud, is my 4 year old going to stay still, etc. Then if not, how will the others judge me based on that.

    So I definitely appreciate the message that the church isn’t just theirs and even though I should try to keep the kids quiet, I shouldn’t be so anxious about it.

    Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading about your children, I think about church this past Sunday, Mother’s Day when the two pews right behind me had two Moms and at least 6 children. Yes, there was the noise, the loud whispering, the seat bumping, but it was all joy. Yes, they could have chose to sit somewhere else, but I’m glad that they didn’t. They were joyfully alive and felt “at home”…just like me!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. When I added that, I thought, “I wonder if anyone has ever done a scientific study of different churches based on political bumper stickers on vehicles in the parking lot?” I could seriously see someone driving through the parking lot, sizing up the church by the bumper stickers and deciding whether to go in or not! (And what would it mean if none of the vehicles had a political bumper stickers?!? Hmm…)

      Liked by 1 person

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