Seems like so many people are trying to make scripture fit into their model or mantra of the month. There are several, but one of those has to do with Jesus in Luke 15. If we are to be accurate, Jesus told the parables in Luke 15. He is not in them. He makes comparisons between what is lost and found on earth and the measures that we go to in order to find it or him. He noted the rejoicing in heaven when a sinner comes home.
Elsewhere Jesus does refer to himself as the Good Shepherd, so let’s walk this parable through as proffered by the meme with Jesus as the shepherd. He leaves the 99 not in the safety of their sheep pen but in the wilderness. Some recent translations say in the open country. The meme presumes that they are not in danger.
What does that mean? The 99 have some skin in the game (ok, wool in the game) as well. As per the scripture, the sheep have no speaking parts. They are not personified in any way, but if we play along with the meme, they say, “But what about us? Don’t we matter?”
The convoluted answer is of course the 99 still matter, but they are not in danger. Not in danger? They are not without existential risk. They risk the danger common to sheep. Thieves and killers usually top the list. That is to say, they are involved and have a stake in this rescue mission even though they were not forward deployed.
Now let’s look at who is this one sheep? If we keep fidelity with this parable and the other two in chapter 15, this sheep is lost. In the greater context, the sheep is a sinner or rebellious. The sheep needs to repent. Let’s leave it in the original context. The sheep is lost.
So, as we try to make the parable fit the BLM narrative, are we saying that black lives—black people—are all sinners? Are they rebellious? Are they lost?
So, it’s not about white privilege or racial profiling or the one being disenfranchised, but that black people are sinners? That surely is not the intended meaning, is it?
But we all have sinned, right? Remember the word “all” is what got this controversy started. Which lives mattered? It is as if saying all lives matter detracted from saying black lives matter. So, is the one a sinner or a black sinner, or just a sheep?
That’s the problem with trying to make scripture fit a human narrative. Scripture is the lens, the paradigm through which we must view the world. When we try to make scripture fit our thinking, we have succumbed to the tricks and tools of the Father of Lies.
This is nothing new. Satan tempted Jesus by mixing God’s word with lies but Jesus didn’t fall for it. We must know God’s word so well that we don’t jump on every bandwagon that glitters.
When people take God’s holy word and try to make it cute or catchy so as to fit their narrative, they mock God. They want the disciples of the like and share kind that are not interesting in the truth but in going with the flow. We have been conformed to the patterns of this world long enough. It’s time for us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and know the truth that sets us free and not the glittery lies that enslave.
Read all of chapter 15, especially the third parable. It brings home that it is about the love of our Father in heaven and the celebration that takes place when a sinner comes home. Sheep, coins, and sons help tell the story but the story is about the love of the Father.
One of the memes along the lines of Luke 15 that is currently at large, inquires if you remember Jesus in Luke 15. If you do, you will remember that he narrates the parables. But the meme entices you that if you don’t remember, here’s the summary.
Wrong answer! If you don’t remember, don’t trust the summary. Go read the scripture yourself. Then listen to what is proffered and go back to the scriptures and search them to see if what’s presented has any fidelity to God’s word. Get Berean.
I use personification frequently in my messages, but I read the scripture to the people first. I challenge people who hear and ready my messages to search the scriptures. Take my messages as a challenge to learn more. Stay hungry for God’s word.
I could go on about trying to fit scripture into human causes or to trying to make what was proffered in parable somehow allegorical. Instead, I will offer some scripture that might help with this issue of what lives matter.
It’s only fair that if I want you to jump off the fool’s gold bandwagon, I should give you someplace to land if you want biblical counsel as you consider your part in BLM or other worldly constructs.
Consider what is often called the Parable of the Bigger Barns. It comes just a bit earlier in Luke’s gospel. We won’t try to match characters with black people or white people. There is no allegory here, but there is a question.
Are we rich towards God?
The man in the parable was super rich, super blessed, and super privileged. He had it all and more was on the way, but what was he going to do with it? He was going to build bigger barns to store it.
The rich man, sometimes referred to as the rich fool, did not know that this would be his last day on earth. He thought only of himself when he considered his privilege and blessing and bounty, but his life would be judged by whether or not he was rich towards God with what he had.
Most of the time that means are we rich towards others.
The second place to turn is the Parable of the Talents. Again, we don’t seek allegory. We ask ourselves a question that is never asked by the master but answered by all three servants.
Instead of insisting that others repeat your mantra, insist that you live your life to the full so as to bring glory to God.
Instead of insisting on our own way, let love govern and let our lives matter in those whom we reach.
Stop trying to fit God’s word into your model. Let God show you truth and purpose and next steps.
Seek him first and his kingdom and his righteousness, then see what he blessing he bestows upon you. They might be exactly what your heart is calling your to do but the world is enticing you to abandon.
Know the voice of the Good Shepherd so you do not follow those who would lead you astray.