Who are the lost?

Who are the lost?

Exploring our Vision Statement

Our new mission statement provoked questions for many. On reflection, though, most of us can make the connection between that statement ( Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples. ) and Jesus’s twofold commandment: “Love God and love your neighbour”, and his words to his Church at his Ascension: “Go forth and make disciples.”

Our Vision

“To be a parish with a heart for those Jesus refers to as “the lost” — those who have not yet encountered the Father’s love. In worship, ministry, and daily life, we seek to welcome outsiders and share the good news of Jesus Christ.”

On the other hand, the source of our Vision Statement may be a little less clear.  But it also comes to us from Jesus, specifically from his encounter with Zacchaeus (Luke chapter 19). Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Tax collectors were reviled by the Jews of Jesus’ day because of their perceived greed and collaboration with the Roman occupiers. Tax collectors amassed personal wealth by demanding tax payments in excess of what Rome levied and keeping the difference. After Jesus shocks the crowd gathered to hear him ( and likely his own disciples as well ) by going to Zaccheus’s home for dinner, Zacchaeus responds by promising to make amends for his ill gotten gains. Finally Jesus concludes their encounter by saying to the crowd: 

“The Son of Man came to
seek out and to save the lost”

Luke 19:10

So Jesus came to seek out and save the lost. To make disciples, we could say, echoing our mission statement. But that’s not exactly what Jesus said —  he said he came for “the lost”. So who are the lost? Well, a glance at Zacchaeus can help us. First, Zacchaeus was an outcast from his society. So we can look for the lost on the margins. But Zacchaeus was also tremendously wealthy. So it also seems like there might be more than one kind of margin. The truth is, that like Zacchaeus, we can be materially well-off and still be lost. In other words the lost are all around us, including in our pews.

And that’s important. Because there is a strong temptation for us to assume that so long as someone is not obviously a criminal, or struggling to make financial ends meet, they are probably doing just fine. Jesus never made that assumption. And neither should we. 

That should teach us something about both our mission and vision statements. Because both of them originate in something Jesus knew, and we have likely experienced — that on our own, by our own power, our life will always be in some way less than it could be, and less than we ourselves desire. And in the context of our parish, they are both rooted in our belief that in Jesus Christ and his presence among us we have something to share that others (not to mention we ourselves) desperately need. 

We have a mission because Jesus gave it to his Church. We have a vision because we realize we are not yet perfectly fulfilling that mission. Our vision is to be a community “with a heart for the lost”. What’s interesting about that vision is that it is as much about us as it is about the lost. Ultimately it will be fulfilled in our heart, and that fulfilment will be reflected in the world, by changes in what we do and how we do it. The recent change to our Sunday @ 11:00 am music program, along with the move to longer message series, and the establishment of our online and in-person ministries of hospitality, all reflect an effort to make that change of heart visible (and audible) in the world.

Let’s pray together that the Lord will continue to change our hearts, and to help us become known in word and deed as a parish with a heart for the lost.