My son has a tendency to lose his backpack. He loses track of the places he carries it and sets it down. He leaves it in the car and swears he didn't. He tosses it into his closet and never sees it again. He can lose his backpack when it was in his hand a few seconds before. None of that really bothers me. After all, learning how to be responsible and keep track of things is part of growing up and something that must often be taught. No, the thing that drives me crazy is that he still doesn't know how to look for it. He is in that phase where he walks into a room and if it doesn't immediately start yelling, "I'm right here on top of the table!" then he doesn't see it. He is still learning what it means to search, to go out of your way, focused on finding something, turning over rocks and scouring hiding places, looking intently and not expecting it to jump out at you.
Sometimes, though, I think we drive Jesus crazy with our own inability to search. When Jesus describes why he constantly hung around sinners, he told the parable of a shepherd, saying, "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety- nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4, NLT). Jesus came into the world to seek and to save those who are lost and we are supposed to be about the same business, whether we believe we have the gift of evangelism or not. We are supposed to be searching for that one lost sheep, even if everybody around us is already found.
Far too often, though, I think we look for lost sheep the same way my son looks for his backpack. We glance around, nothing immediately jumps out at us (even though it's sitting right in front of us), shrug our shoulders, and move on. But as followers of Christ, that should never be good enough for us. We should be following Christ's example and searching as if there's just one out there, hidden really well, and finding it is a matter of life or death because, well, it is. We can't hope the lost sheep happens to wander into our church or Bible study. We have to go looking to find it.
Are you searching for the lost today or just hoping you bump into them?