By Gary D. Myers
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Getting lost in the woods caused me to stop and think. Since I maneuvered my way out of the canyon I’ve been pondering the meaning of the word “lost” as Jesus used it in the New Testament. I have also been pondering the words “light” and “dark” as well – two common themes in Jesus’ teaching. Here are a few random thoughts on being “lost.” I’ll save the “light” and “dark” discussion for another day.
Christians often use the word “lost” to describe people outside the faith. We freely admit that we were once in the same condition before we met Jesus. “Amazing Grace” says it best. “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” We freely admit that our being found had nothing to do with our own goodness, it has everything to do with Jesus actively searching us out while we were still sinners. Though we have been found and forgiven, we aren’t perfect. Not even close. And most of us don’t claim to be perfect. We tell others what Jesus did for us not from a sense of superiority, but out of love.
Sometimes, people outside the faith are offended by the use of this word. And while the Church has sometimes been insensitive in reference to those who do not believe, I only seek to use the term as Jesus used it.
Jesus used the lost imagery multiple times in scripture – being lost and found is a common theme in Luke. The Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Lost Son are all found in Luke 15.
I affirm that every person who ever lived was created in God’s image and is of infinite worth to God. The lost are of no less worth than the found. I think these parables affirm this – the worth of the coin never changed throughout the parable. The coin’s value is the same when it was lost as it was when it was found. In Luke 15, we learn that there is great rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents – that is, there is rejoicing when the lost are found.
Again in Luke 19, Jesus uses the word “lost” to describe Zacchaeus’ repentance. “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
As I said in Part One and Part Two of this series, it pained me to admit that I was lost in the canyon. But I was lost, whether I wanted to admit it or not. The same is true in spiritual lostness -- admitting you need Jesus is in key to being found. The whole canyon experience reminded me about my life before Christ and reminded me what it was like to be found. This was a great exercise for my faith. Remembering compels me to share my story – “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”