Connection Group Questions 3.7.2021
Series: The King’s Gambit
Message: Lost Things Found
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” ~ Luke 15:1-2
Perhaps you can laugh about it now. Or maybe it’s still a painful reality of your life. Great or small, we’ve all experienced losing and being lost. Open with some stories of getting lost, or losing something.
Maybe you got lost as a child? Or maybe you lost something of great value like a wedding ring? Or maybe you can relate to being lost but not even knowing you were lost?
Read Luke 15:1-7
Psalm 23 give us a beautiful picture of God as our shepherd. Jesus picks up the metaphor and calls himself the good shepherd and the gate for the sheep (John 10). And the Spirit is often described with shepherding-type words such a comforter, counselor and guide.
Now, in Luke 15, Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders for welcoming and eating with sinners and tax collectors. They seemed to think it was their job to exclude such people from the community of faith. Jesus seems to be saying, seeking and saving folks like this is my mission!
What does this mean for the church? What does this mean for your life? What kind of people does God want to seek and save and welcome to faith? Would you describe your life a “scandalously surrounded by sinners?” When was the last time you ate with people who have bene for feel outcast from the church?
The image of “welcome” is that of embrace. Jesus literally embraced sinners and outcasts. We can obviously choose to do this as individuals. But how might a church embrace outcasts?
The first story of lost things, the only story we had time to unpack, deals with sheep. Sheep have been described as “dumb, distracted and disobedient.” If you have any experience with sheep feel free to enlighten the group.
Jesus tells of the shepherd going after one lost sheep, leaving 99 behind. Is this foolish? Why the risk for the one? Reflect on the meaning behind the metaphor and what Jesus wants us to understand.
Sheep are not good at following. Yes, they know the voice of the shepherd, but can’t be trusted to stay in line. The shepherd has to search out, find, pick up and carry the lost sheep home. How did you come to faith, or recommit to faith? Upon reflection is your story one of a lost sheep being carried home?
Jesus gives a powerful statement at the end, “Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Perhaps this radically changes our perception of the priorities of Jesus and all of heaven. Jesus rejoices over one sinner who repents. Heaven celebrates one sinner who repents. What does repentance mean? How is self-righteousness and repentance antithetical?
If you have never repented and given your life to the shepherd, what is stopping you? What questions or reservations do you have? Might today be the day of being found?
If you are a “found sheep” in the community of faith, how can we start to live more like the shepherd? How might “sinners and tax collectors” gather around you and in your home and in our church?