When Our Motivation is Genuine Love
Have you ever noticed that Jesus is so motivated by love?
He came into this world out of love (John 3:16). He laid down his life for us out of love. He is slow to return out of love. He ate with sinners, healed the sick, delivered the oppressed, fed thousands, all out of love. His life teaches us that when we're motivated by love, we can truly impact the world.
I love this passage in Luke 15. I love the story about the lost sheep. Why? Because I was the lost sheep. Do you know what I mean? Far away from the safety of the group, yet unable the find your way back? Jesus points out that He'd go after the one lost sheep and rejoice over it. You know what's really noticeable here, though? The sheep didn't earn the affection of the shepherd. The Bible doesn't point out "The sheep that had served as the shepherd's best pillow." Or "The sheep that had the best attitude." or "The sheep that lived the best life." There wasn't a qualifier as to why the shepherd would go after the one lost sheep. It was simply a sheep that was lost that caught the shepherd's heart and moved him to action. Jesus was willing to leave behind the herd to go out in search of the ones who are wandering around, stumbling in the dark, and lost. If you think about it, every single one of his flock has been lost at one point or another. Do you want to know how I know? Because none of us are perfect, we are all that lost sheep!
Great lengths for a sheep
When I think about a shepherd, I think about David. Remember him? David and Goliath? A shepherd boy who later became king? We talked about him not too long ago in the post about inexperience. We learned through him that while he was inexperienced, he wasn't unprepared. Anyway, David hears of Goliath's taunts and decides to approach King Saul about going out to meet the giant on the battlefield. King Saul saw David's youth and told David that he was too young and inexperienced to take on a man who was very experienced in war. David, in turn, gives King Saul a verbal resume (1 Samuel 17:34-37).
What strikes me about this is that David shares how he took on a lion and a bear and killed them with his bare hands. HIS BARE HANDS!! David was a shepherd charged with protecting the sheep. He was willing to face off with a lion and a bear with no guarantee of a positive outcome. That's how strongly shepherds felt about their sheep. To bring this into present day terms, how many viral videos have you seen where an owner goes to the extreme to save the life of their pet? Those sheep to David represented more than just mere affection for a pet, those sheep represented his family's livelihood.
Why do I mention this when I talk about Jesus as our shepherd? If David was willing to go to such lengths to rescue just one sheep from the mouth of an enemy, how much further would Jesus go for us? He braved torture. He braved the cross. He defeated our enemy, Satan. He paid the price to rescue us from the prison that Satan held us in. He did everything to ensure our freedom so that now we get a choice as to whether or not we're going to walk out of that prison and into our new life of freedom. He did this all out of love.
There are more out there that are just like me
2 Peter 3:9 always gets me. When I find myself feeling impatient, longing for home, longing to escape this world and all its troubles, this verse sobers me to an uncomfortable reality. There are more out there who are just like I was, who are lost. There are more out there who are stumbling around in the dark, desperately searching for the light. There are more out there who are waiting and wanting to be found. It's for each one of us that God is patient in His returning. His desire is that none of us remain in the prison that Satan prepared for us. His desire is that every single life would be saved as they stroll on out of that prison cell and walk in their new life of freedom. Why would He exercise patience in this way? Why would He continue to deal with the humanity that chooses to take a path that leads humanity further and further away from Him? It's because of love. He's motivated by love.
You're worth it. I'm worth it. We're all worth it. It was all out of love, not because we deserve it, but because of who He is.