By Pastor Josh Bundy
The Nature of Lost Things
1 Peter 1:2 [You] have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling with his blood…
Recently, I lost something valuable to me. Like a character in a parable of Jesus I looked around a bit, then I amplified my search. I look around the rooms I had been in that day. I called a restaurant I had visited. Aha! They had my item at the reception stand waiting for me.
When I noticed my missing valuable it struck me that I wished it could tell me where it was. Of course, things cannot do that. They don’t even realize they are lost. They move from a secure pocket or purse to a dusty corner under a radiator or into the shadow of a chair and they are none the wiser.
Unlike inanimate objects, humans have various experiences with being “lost.” A person who is lost in a forest might panic. A child lost in a store might do the same. An adult lost in a store just asks for directions. A person who is “lost” in a spiritual sense may not ask for anything or even realize they are lost at all. An imaginative child, who has no reason to fear, might wander for hours without realizing that they were lost to others. Jesus told three parables in Luke 15 about a lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son… they all have different experiences of being “lost.”
So, I want to point out one aspect about the nature of lost people and make sure you understand from the outset that there are different ways of looking at “being lost.” This is not the only way to talk about “lost-ness.”
The aspect I want to consider is the lost person who is on no one’s radar (even their own), except God’s. They don’t feel lost. No one is looking for them. There is no spiritual panic or particularly obvious need… they are just far from God and yet he is not far from them.
Peter knew something about this. He had been a fisherman who was from God’s people (Israel). Presumably, he was a hard worker and a decent person. We know he was married. He worked with a family fishing unit. He probably didn’t think of himself as lost. Yet Jesus came near to him, chose him, called him, sanctified him (set him apart for a special work and started working in his life), and he became obedient to Jesus and even had his whole life changed, saved, and given meaning through Jesus’ death and resurrection. As Peter would put this, he was “sprinkled with Jesus’ blood.” I think he means this last bit figuratively but still in a very meaningful sense.
Peter’s experience as a “lost” person was a surprising awakening to something he didn’t know he needed. (That may be arguing from silence a bit, but we don’t have any reason to think he was feeling completely lost up until he met Jesus.)
So, when he writes to scattered Christians who are living in various cities far from the center of the early Christian faith, he reminds them of what they didn’t know when they were once lost, to encourage them to remain faithful in what they don’t understand now.
Let me put that another way: Peter wrote, “YOU were chosen by God, sanctified by the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus.” Peter might as well have written, “YOU didn’t know you needed this. Only God knew. You weren’t asking for it. He went looking for you. He located you. Picked you up. Put you back into proper working order. HE did that for you once.”
The implication? If he did that for you once when you were lost and didn’t know it, what can he do for you or through you or in you when you feel scattered, beat down, persecuted, worn out… and you do know you need help? Well, he can do miracles. He can do anything. He has always been the one with a plan and we were always the ones unaware of how much we even needed it.
Wherever you are this week, rest assured: God can find you, come to you, and save you. He can put things back in order. He can give you purpose and meaning. You have at least one thing in common with the nature of lost things and lost people: God is looking for you. That will be enough.
And I give you the same blessing Peter gave to his readers two millennia ago: Grace and peace be multiplied to you.