The state of being lost is defined on dictionary.com as “having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, or direction.”
The Bible defines being lost as a “separation from God”, which is due to the universal virus of “sin”. Sin is not merely a point blank list of moral duties to be obeyed. At its’ center, sin is all of those things we do that destroy ourselves, our relationship to others, and most of all to God. Sin breaks relationship to a righteous, set apart God who loves and cares for us, and thereby the consequences of it bleed into our personal sense of self and kinship with those we love or are acquainted with. In it’s most profound potency, sin leads us into a state of desperation and brokenness. It ultimately alienates us from God, others and self, subtly deceiving us into a journey of anger, bitterness, hatred, malice, and self-destruction. Sin laughs from the hidden corner as the lives of men and women crumble before their very own eyes.
Romans 8:6-8 describes the struggle of the natural inclination of humanity against the wiles of death. It says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” At first glance, this seems like a strong indictment, because it is! The severity of our state is bleak when we see ourselves as we truly are. There is no escape within addiction and the medication of the soul. There is no religious pretension and mere human effort that can rescue a perpetually guilty heart. In our human state, we are trapped in the “realm of the flesh”. “A central message of the Bible is that we can only have a relationship with God by sheer grace.” (Keller, The Reason for God, 54) We are unable to obey God’s laws, and desperately need the solution that is found on the blood stained cross where Jesus gave His last breath and proclaimed, “It is finished!” Jesus died so that any who would accept His earthly termination as a substitute for their own, would be made truly free, and thereby be granted a “mind governed by the Spirit”, which brings “life and peace”.
God’s heart breaks over the state of so many who are misplaced. Our hearts ought to break as well. It’s apparent in chapters of scripture like Luke 15 that God sees something lost as something of value, and as Bill Hybels would say, this “warrants an all out search”. It’s clear that there is a great celebration in heaven when something was once lost is found. Because of God’s broken heart over the displacement of human beings, He did something about it. He didn’t just passively sit in grandiose apathy and arrogance like a tyrant. He sent His Son to the earth to live a perfect life and die a criminal’s death. This Son of Man who was murdered for nothing but His own perfection and true identity as the Messiah came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). The summons to an eternal destiny in anguish is a self-inflicted destiny, because God’s great desire is for all to embrace His loving, righteous offer and thereby be embraced by His loving arms. The rebellion against this tender offer has existed always, because God has no desire to impose it upon all of creation, though a true realization of it’s power will overwhelm the heart of the sincere inquirer.
In light of all this, we have Jesus commanding His followers; “Go forth and make disciples of all nations and peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) If this were merely a call to convince people of behavioral modification and conformity, it would be a cheap, one-inch deep plea. Jesus was saying that He has the authority on earth to forgive sins, and He wanted us to go and proclaim this to any and everybody. It is the best news ever, because the state of human hearts is bewildered.