“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?

“The Hopelessly Lost…Obliterate Them…Really?!?”

Yesterday’s comic strip introduced the question “Were there some things that Jesus never got around to doing?” and also the implied question “Are there really people who are just hopelessly lost? People who are just so far gone that not even Jesus could reach?”

Today, the questions are the same, only the comic strip has changed. So what do you think? Was Jesus supposed to obliterate people? Are there people who are truly hopelessly lost?

The “answer,” if we step back in time to the days of Laser Eyes Jesus, was something like an “active obliteration of the hopelessly lost.” It seems that people wanted a Warrior King who would forcibly push out the occupying foreign Romans. The Great Flood and Noah, The Plagues Of Egypt, The Battles and Wars In The Promised Land were all “active obliterations.” There also seemed to be “passive obliterations” of the poor, the sick, the crippled, the lepers…just push them aside, ignore, and neglect them until they die.

In some respects, things have not changed much since then, and yet in other respects, everything has changed tremendously! Here’s what I mean. Jesus changed everything. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, sin and death had its grip firmly on us. Sin and death owned us.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:30 (NASB)

The Greek word used for “finished” is “tetelestai.” It is only used in two places in the entire New Testament, right here in verses 28 and 30. (In verse 28, “tetelestai” is translated as “completed.”) To me, that makes this particular word very important. During New Testament times “tetelestai” was used to show that a bill had been paid in full. Romans 6:6 and 6:18 remind us that we are no longer slaves to sin, bound to death. The price for our freedom has been paid.

On the Cross Of Jesus, everything in the world changed, at least from God’s perspective. It can change for us too. There is now no longer a need to “actively obliterate” people (however that might look in modern times) because freedom from sin and death has been made available to all. But I do see a need to stop the “passive obliteration” of people.

So what if Jesus accomplished all that He was to accomplish and now we have the ability to do all God has set for us to do? And chiefly perhaps to stop the “passive obliteration” of people, particularly those who would be labeled “the hopelessly lost”?

Take a look at how the Gospel of Mark ends.

And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. Mark 16:20 (NASB)

The world has changed. The death and resurrection of Jesus caused that change. The apostles were living out that change, just as we can today.

And do you see those amazing six words? They are “while the Lord worked with them.” Yes, it was “Mission Complete” on the Cross Of Jesus, but now Jesus is still very active and working with us on a ”New Mission”. It is Real Life Jesus, I believe, who is still actively at work with us to bring the change He purchased to the entire world, especially to those incorrectly labeled “The Hopelessly Lost.”

As someone who many people might have once labeled as a member of “The Hopelessly Lost,” I am truly grateful to all who never gave up on me.

“The Pudding Cup Pyramid”

So what do you think? Could “Winning Souls” really work like this? If we keep telling people we know, and they tell people that they know, and then they tell people that they know…eventually wouldn’t everyone hold fast to Jesus as Savior? It’s sort of sounds like this is possible.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NRSV)

But in a way it also sounds like a bit of naive optimism, hopeful romantic thinking that overlooks the role that darkness can play in the lives of some people.

“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19 (NRSV)

Perhaps a good start is to see the real person and see from the perspective of their darkness (or better yet, what we perceive as their darkness). In other words, focus on the person rather than “convincing them to give up their pudding cups.” To me, it’s also important to remember that repentance follows (rather than precedes) embracing Jesus.

These things, I believe, require us to depend upon the guidance of Real Life Jesus.

God is quite good at leading us to people who have struggled with the same “pudding cups” that we have struggled with! (Things like alcoholism, drug addiction, negativity, promiscuity, or even faulty belief systems…all of those things that we don’t want to give up!)

We are called to “be My witnesses,” not “pry every last pudding cup” from anyone’s fingers! That is up to, I believe, Real Life Jesus. He decides.

“Things I Gave Up To Be A Christian”

This week, Rob suggests a list idea in hopes that Laura will think about things a little differently. Laura’s Essential Life List for this week is titled “Things I Gave Up To Be A Christian.”

What a brilliant and extremely Essential Life List to have! Why not start yours today!?!

So what do you think? Do you have to give up anything to become a Christian? Maybe you have to give up sinning altogether or at least give up big and serious sins? Drinking way too much alcohol? Taking drugs? Wild crazy sex? Listening to music with “Parental Advisory” labels?

This really sounds good. Sin is bad. God is good. Have you ever heard a testimony like this? “I gave up alcohol (or drugs or whatever), God welcomed me in to His Kingdom, and I can now call myself a Christian.” That sounds good to me but also not quite right at the same time.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NRSV)

Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit to us, and He would “reproved the world” (KJV) of sin and righteousness and judgement. “Reproved the world” means “prove the world wrong.” Does that mean that without Jesus we don’t even have a clue about sin and being righteous and making any kind of judgment about ourselves? I think it does! So this list, I believe, might really need to be empty, or at least be given a different title!

“Our Most Excellently Perfect Family Tree”


Laura’s Essential Life List for this week is titled “Our Strong and Mighty, Upright and Most Excellently Perfect Family Tree.”

What a brilliant and extremely Essential Life List to have! Why not start yours today!

So what do you think? When it comes to your own family tree, are there some people that you wouldn’t want to include? At least not without some creative editing because they were “different”? Maybe you wouldn’t want to even include yourself? (Shame can do that.)

But our New Testament writers didn’t edit like that. They were more concerned with telling the truth. Amazingly, Jesus had some “different” people on His family tree. One that really stands out is Rahab (Matthew 1:5-6). Genealogies in the Bible can honestly be boring, and if we read them at all, we tend to rush through them, right?

But there in Matthew’s Gospel is Rahab with all the others, except Rahab was a harlot (a prostitute) and the great-great-grandmother of King David, right on down to Joseph husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. Oh, and she also probably worshipped idols. (Read some of her story in Joshua Chapter 2.)

Yet she is also listed as an example of faith to follow. (Read the rest of her story here in Hebrews Chapter 11.)

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. Hebrews 11:31 (NRSV)

God can redeem anyone, and for His glory.

I’m pointing this out today because recently I’ve come across quite a few posts where people have described some very painful things in their lives, things that you would think had the power to mark them and ruin them for life. (Alcoholism, Rape, Domestic Violence, Drug Addiction…just horrible things.)

But they are rising or have risen above those things through the power of Christ.

I am just in awe. Keep sharing your stories. Someone else somewhere else has experienced the same thing. They need your testimony. Your truth will lead someone to The Truth.