Lost, Lonely & Addicted
By Russ Hobbs
I heard a story about a little boy who restlessly struggled to listen to a sermon. After the service the child asked his father; “what does the preacher do the rest of the week”? His dad replied, “oh, he’s a very busy man. He works on church business, visits the sick, studies the Bible and he has to take time to rest. You see preaching in public is not an easy job.” The boy thought for a moment and said; “well listening ain’t so easy either!”
Listening can be difficult, especially when the message is challenging or hard to hear. In the Gospels Jesus tells stories about lost sheep, lost coins, lost souls and lost opportunities. It’s not easy to talk about lost, lonely and addicted people. It can be even a bigger problem to live with these people some times. Jesus is a master at loving and accepting hurting people. Souls would flock to him for healing and hope. Why did people hang out with the Lord? Was it because he went soft on sin? Could it be that his message was easy to hear? How about all of his sensational miracles and wonders performed? Is that why people fought through the crowds to get to the feet of Jesus? The compelling truth of the matter is that Christ attracted people because he loved and accepted them as they were..just as they came to be loved, accepted and comforted.
How do we reach the lost, lonely and addicted? We begin with Compassion. Jesus touched and healed the sick and maimed. He hugged children who were ignored by others. He talked to the outcasts shunned by the religious elite. He demonstrated love, forgiveness and respect for a naked woman caught in adultery who was thrown like a ragdoll at his feet. Love was the language that Christ spoke and the “common folk” understood his message well.
Secondly, if we would help those who have lost their way and all hope we must exercise Effort. It is not easy to reach brokenhearted people. Our first efforts rarely succeed and persistent love is essential. Jesus didn’t give up on difficult people! Some people refused his love but Jesus never failed to go the distance for people.
Following an exhilarating performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall, celebrated classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma went home slept, and awoke the next day exhausted. He called for a cab to take him to a hotel on the other side of Manhattan and placed his cello- hand crafted in Vienna in 1733 and valued at $2.5 million in the trunk of the taxi. When he reached his destination, he paid the driver, but forgot to take his cello.
After the cab had disappeared, Ma realized what he had done. He began a desperate search for the missing instrument. Fortunately, he had the receipt with the cabby’s ID number. After searching all day the taxi was located in a garage in Queens with the priceless cello still in the trunk. Ma’s smile could not be contained as he spoke to reporters.
Here’s the point Yo Yo Ma did not quit! He persisted because what was lost was too valuable to give up on. The spiritually lost are too valuable to give up on even though our efforts do not pay off on quickly.
Finally, the third thing needed to reach the lost lonely and addicted is Persistence. Jesus often noted that what mattered most to God was lost and dying souls. They matter so much to God that when the lost are found, even one of them, that all of heaven breaks into a party! There is more joy over one sinner who finds Jesus and a life of hope and peace than over ninety-nine people who are right where they’re suppose to be with God. If lost people matter that much to God, shouldn’t they mean that much to us? What can we do to share the love of God today? Who will we call this afternoon to tell them that we care about and haven’t forgotten them? Compassion, Effort, Persistence. Go ahead, make it that kind of a day. Tonight, when you lay your head on your pillow you will rest with the knowledge that a life has been enriched, spirits have been lifted and a soul has been plucked from the depths of hell AND you were the cause.