â€œThe Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.”
Â Â Â Luke 19:10
On Sunday Pastor Strout asked us to recall when we lost something of great value, and the lengths to which we went to find it. Jesus is the length to which God goes to find and save each of us.
Later that day, in Portland to watch the film Amazing Grace, another use of the term â€œlostâ€ surfaced when I discovered I didnâ€™t know where I was.Â Up until that point, I hadnâ€™t a clue that I was lost. In fact, I was confident I knew just how to get where we wanted to go. Nevertheless, in the midst of my confidence, I was lost. I just didnâ€™t realize it until something happened to reveal my true condition to me. I discovered that what I was looking for was no where to be found and that I had run out of places to look. That is when we know we are lost. In the movie, when a man asksÂ the hero, William Â Wilberforce, â€œYou found God, sir?â€, Wilberforce replies, â€œI think He found me.â€
Not coincidentally, the movie Amazing Grace features John Newton (brilliantly played by Albert Finney. Hearing Finney say,Â â€œMy memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviourâ€Â is alone worth the price of admission.Â ), his song â€œAmazing Graceâ€, andÂ his lyrics about being lost:
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
When you are lost you are blind to your true condition. When Jesus said, â€œThe Son of Man came to find lost people and save them,â€ he was surrounded by blind, lost people. He wasnâ€™t talking about the physically blind; they, paradoxically,Â had a better sense of whoÂ He was, where He was going, and what He was doing.Â Jesus wasnâ€™t speaking only about the religious or political establishments of his day either. As Pastor Strout noted, Jesus was talking about his intimates, the specially chosen people He had been personally tutoring for three years, the disciples. And if they were lost, what on earth is our condition today?
AsÂ Newton’s song hopes, Godâ€™s Grace should cause each of us to stop regularly in fear that we may be lost in a new way. We should periodically ask God to give us ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying now and eyes to see what He is doing now. When we truly believe that the Holy Spirit will actually reveal new things to us, and correct our course, we will, as the song suggests, find precious relief from our fear of being lost.Â No matter how long we have already been following Him, no matter how well we think we know Him, we areÂ home not yet.
What does all of this have to do with Amazing Grace, the film? For centuries the slave-trading world was lost, but didnâ€™t know it. Slowly, like yeast in a loaf, the Kingdom of God invaded humanity’s conscience, through faithful, seeking Christians like William Wilberforce. And humanity, through the grace of God, began to respond to the voice of God. Then we saw our true condition and, like Adam and Eve, we were ashamed.
The movie shows clearly how God can cause, not just individuals, but a blind society to see that it is missing Godâ€™s mark. The movie challenges us to seek Godâ€™s face and voice again, and again, and again, lest we fall into the complacent attitude that we â€œgetâ€ all that God is about. The movie can challenge us to pray, like Jesus and Paul, not for things, but for more knowledge and experience of Him. Even after ten thousand years, we will have no less need than when we first began. Not Yet.