Jesus and the 1%ers
When was the last time you lost your wallet or your purse? We all have experienced the panic and the fear of losing our identification, money, credit cards and other things of great value. We retrace our steps, our thoughts race and we make every effort to retrieve our valuable lost possession. Now, recall how you felt when the wallet was recovered, what relief and elation you experienced in that moment.
People are of great value to God, he is going to great lengths to recover what is of priceless to him. When he lays hold of it he is joyful among his angels in heaven and they rejoice with him. What makes God rejoice? Repentance towards him and faith in his son Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
There are religious moralists and irreligious ethical people all around us. There are also those who are open and unashamed sinners who don’t hide their sin, it’s just out there for all the world to see. It was among this crowd that Jesus sat down for meals, displaying that he is truly the friend of sinners. Of course the religious moralists criticized him for this, looking down their ethical noses with a pretense of righteousness but in truth they were in a worse condition than the prostitutes, adulterers, cheats and drunks that became the disciples of Jesus.
The self righteous and moralists were the majority in the day of Jesus and it is true of our day as well. The religious and the irreligious moralist alike are blind to the fact of their lost condition. Jesus does not pursue the people who think that they are “OK”, he is diligently seeking those who know they are lost. Who were the 1 percenters of Jesus day and who are the one percenters of our day? Jesus illustrates who they are in the parable of the 100 sheep. 1% of the sheep wandered off, and being the good shepherd that he is, Jesus left the 99 and searched high and low for that one wayward black sheep.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12) Most people do what they think is right and hope for the best, but this approach to life leads ultimately to death. Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way. (Isaiah 53:6) There is a significant difference in attitude of the 1% that causes the shepherd to leave the 99 and go after the one stray sheep. What is the difference? Jesus said, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) The 99 believe they are basically good and 1 out of a hundred realize that they are sinners in desperate need of help.
The one percenters are a special group to Jesus, not because they are the elite but because they are the humble. They see themselves for what they are, astray, lost, without hope and in need of rescue. Repentance is a paradox. God calls all men now to repent from unbelief in the risen Christ. (Acts 17:30) Yet humanly speaking our repentance has no redeeming power in itself. What do I mean? Moral reform is just that; it’s only conformity to a set of rules, but true godly repentance that leads to salvation is from God alone (see 2 Corinthians 7:10). Peter speaking of the salvation of the Gentiles said, “If therefore God gave them the same gift as us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God? When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God and said, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:17-18) To be granted repentance unto eternal life implies one has a need and must ask for this gracious gift. Have you asked God for this gift?
When moral relativism rules a culture they will scoff at the very term repentance. Isn’t this where we have arrived in our nation and our world? Self esteem and pride are the murderers of humility; people think too highly of themselves and too low of a holy God. Who are the 1% that Jesus is seeking after? They are only those beat their chest and cry out, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)
Christmas is here; Why did Jesus come? “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) Are you a 1%er?