How do we improve at reaching lost people? Yesterday we said we need to understand, and even have, God’s heart for lost people. If not we won’t be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach lost people over the long haul. And there will be sacrifices.

So let’s listen for God’s heart beat. Jesus expressed it repeatedly, saying things like, “I have not come for the well, but for the sick,” and “I have come to seek and to save what was lost,” and “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I have not yet found the verse where Jesus says, “I have come to make the well even more well,” or “I have come to keep and preserve what is already found,” or “I have not come to call sinners, but the righteousness to more righteousness.” In Matthew 9 we see Jesus weeping over the sight of people who were lost, “like sheep without a shepherd.” He then asks His disciples to beg God for more people who will be willing to reach them.

My favorite expression of God’s heart for the lost comes in the trilogy of stories Jesus tells in Luke 15. Who is in Jesus’ audience? Verse one says tax collectors and “sinners” gathered around to hear Him. These would be the worst of the worst. (Isn’t it ironic how lost people did whatever they could to get close to Jesus, and now do whatever they can to stay far away from our churches?) Verse two says there were also Pharisees and teachers of the law there who were upset because Jesus came close to people who were far from God. What was their problem? They couldn’t hear God’s heart beat for lost people.

So Jesus proceeds to give a trilogy of stories that would make George Lucas jealous. He tells of a shepherd who leaves ninety-nine safe sheep to go on an all-out search and rescue mission for one lost sheep. He tells of a woman who turns her house upside down to find one lost coin. And He tells of a father who day after day stares down the street hoping-on-hope that his lost son will return home, and when he finally sees the first shadow of his son appearing, he bolts. He runs as fast as he can to him, because he can’t wait to hold him.

Jesus was telling the lost people in the crowd, and the found people who had no concern for the lost: That is what God is like. He will do whatever He has to do, go to any extreme, make any sacrifice necessary. It doesn’t matter why the lost person got lost, where they went, what they did. Everything is forgivable. And God is searching. God has a candle burning in the window to help His lost children find their way. And when they make the first step towards home, God sprints to them.

Is it any wonder the tax collectors and sinners came close to hear Jesus?
And is it any wonder the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had no heart for the lost, decided that Jesus must die?

Do you hear God’s heartbeat? And does your heart pick up the rhythm? Do you weep over the sight of people without God? Or is that just something you say, because you know it’s the right answer, or is it something you actually do? Are you making an all-out search, turning things upside down, watching for even a hint that a lost person is ready to come home so you can run to meet them?

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about one of the very worst moments of my life.

Until then … only swim with a buddy.

– Featured on newchurches.com