So he told them this parable:“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:3-7, ESV).
Recently, I spoke with an old friend, of shall we say the more liberal political persuasion, and he compared the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to the lost sheep of Luke 15. He then stated the message of the parable was that Jesus would have supported the BLM movement and shunned anyone who says “all lives matter” (ALM). He then challenged anyone and asked if they “wanted to argue with Jesus.” I have seen several Facebook versions of his dialogue as well. I agree with the greater premise that Jesus is not willing that any should perish, and he will save everyone who believes in Him. The Bible is clear on these points. I do not think Jesus would have embraced the Marxist philosophy of the BLM movement. This man (and he is not unique) twisted a Biblical passage for a political point.
If you read my book Bapticostal, then you already know that I have a special dislike for proof-texting- which is people trying to use the Word of God to prove their positions, instead of letting Jesus inform their thinking through His Word. I think Jesus is saddened by the division in His church since one of his last prayers on Earth was for the unity of the saints. BLM vs ALM is just another tool of the enemy to try to separate God’s people into warring camps over temporal issues.
I am not sure we can take the parables of the Kingdom and apply them to American political theory- especially since it requires changing the characters in the story. The shepherd is and must remain Jesus, not a political party or system or country. The sheep are individuals standing in the protection of and fully dependent on their God, not political operatives. The totality of the flock is the Kingdom of Heaven, not America. Period. In Luke, Jesus tells three parables in a row with the same message: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (called parodical son by many). These are parables of salvation and the overwhelming mercy of God to bring people into His kingdom.
Can I say a true statement that will offend you? JESUS DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR POLITICS BEFORE YOU COME TO HIM. It does not matter what you were for or against before coming to the Lord- lost is lost. Many of you are probably red-faced and mad at that statement, but it is true. If you don’t believe me, look at Jesus’ closest followers. One was called Simon Zealots. Zealot was not his last name, it was a political party in Israel for the violent overthrow of Roman rule. Matthew (Levi) was a tax collector- you can’t get more pro-Roman than that! The campfire with these two sitting around must have been interesting. Imagine the most right-wing and left-wing person you know suddenly figuring out they serve the same Jesus? But it gets better. Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Saul (Paul) were all Pharisees who thought the lower classes were disfavored by God. Four of the disciples were fishermen (part of those lower classes). Simon Peter was middle-aged. John and James the lesser were both teenagers. Women followed Jesus as well (Mary Magdalene, Martha, JoAnna)- a rabbi teaching women was something unheard of in Israel. Jesus did not care about demographics and previous political affiliation. All of these people had to submit to the Kingdom of God- what they were before did not matter. But once they submitted to the King and joined his Kingdom, their political will was subjugated to him. Jesus’ cause became their cause.
Black lives matter. All lives matter. Either both statements are true or neither is. Jesus welcomes both members of the BLM and ALM crowd into the Kingdom of Heaven if they will submit to Him as King and savior. But that is the key, after their salvation, they are neither BLM nor ALM anymore but members of the Kingdom of God.
I imagine most BLM followers and ALM followers are good people who want to live at peace and go about their lives. I also imagine most of them are probably very close together in core beliefs, more than they want to admit. However, ALM has a small right-wing undercurrent of Nazi and Confederate flag-waving people who claim to “protect heritage.” And BLM (according to the organization’s founders) has a small group of left-wing Marxists who want the violent overthrow of all the established systems in America: political, social, and economic- BLM considers “white privilege” to be the main source of suffering for people of color. Let me translate both group’s hidden messages: ALM has some people who hate black people because of the color of their skin, and BLM has some people who hate white people because of the color of their skin. Both are racist positions. Both are wrong. Period. Neither is “more right” or “more wrong.” Wrong is wrong. Racism is racism, and hate is hate- regardless of excuses or intellectual-sounding arguments.
The great news of the Gospel of the Kingdom is that we are all one blood (read Genesis). And in I Peter 2:9-10, the apostle tells that those who join the Kingdom of Heaven form a new race and tribe of people, not based on race but on allegiance to the King of Kings. In Jesus’ Kingdom, racism is wrong in any form; all authority is established by God and must be respected; people reap what they sow; good men leave an inheritance for their children; he who will not work, shall not eat; men are not held guilty of the sins of their fathers; stealing, destruction, and murder are wrong; and Jesus’ disciples are known by their love for each other. The characteristics of Jesus’ Kingdom include much more than this shortlist, but I just picked out a few that both ALM and BLM might find difficult to square with their stated positions.
Jesus will separate the sheep nations from the goat nations at the end of the age (Matthew 25:31-46). I want to be a sheep in the pastures of the Kingdom of Heaven. I want to love the other sheep- regardless of their color, pasture, or creed. I want to please the shepherd.
An intellectually sound, politically-favored, high-minded goat is still a goat, and they are separated from the sheep and the shepherd for all eternity.
Peace be unto you.