Have you ever wondered why God’s plans sometimes feel a bit stupid? This is a strong statement to make, and please note that I’m not making it now, because to do so would be disrespectful and foolish beyond measure. And yet I find myself occasionally wondering why God acts the way He does. Perhaps you do the same? I think to myself whilst reading Scripture (Numbers 22) ‘why did God use a donkey to talk to someone?’ Or on another occasion, I might ponder why it has taken two thousand years for Jesus to return. Or, why God doesn’t just call down from the heavens and save us all this task of evangelism. Other times my mind wanders more towards the mystery of suffering and the apparent silence from God that often accompanies these moments. But this week I found myself wondering whether it was foolish to leave ninety-nine sheep to find the one.
In the Gospel of Luke (chapter 15), we find recorded the parable of the lost sheep, which is placed alongside those of the lost coin and the lost son (or prodigal son). As I was reading it I imagined I was hearing this plan for the first time; to leave the ninety-nine sheep alone and unprotected to search for a single sheep that was likely lost forever. The plan seems, on the face of it, stupid. When I ran through the scenario I recalled all kinds of proverbs that dissuade people from precisely this kind of action. I remembered ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush.’ Then I recalled the story of the dog with a bone who, upon seeing his reflection in the river, opened his mouth to catch the bigger bone only to sorrowfully watch the real bone float away. In my wrestling, I couldn’t honestly advise anyone to adopt Jesus’ plan for themselves. But perhaps the apparent silliness of the plan is precisely the point. We can’t understand His plan because we don’t understand His love. God’s love is so extravagant, so generous, so (dare I say) reckless in our sight, that we will continue to search the depths of His love to our dying day looking to understand it (Ephesians 3:16-19). And on that day we will finally see with our own eyes the full extent of God’s love for us as we finally meet His embrace.
I don’t believe God is reckless. He is certainly not stupid. I know Him to be determined. He is determined to welcome sinners (us) to eat with Him (Luke 15:2). He is determined to be reconciled to us even while we curse His name (Romans 5:8). He ultimately decided to ‘risk’ it all, to sacrifice Himself, to make a way for us to be together again. This morning we are thankful for the love of God.