October 25, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 15:20-24 (NRSV)
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
It’s common for Christians to talk about seeking and finding God as a precursor to their conversation. There is a sense in which this is accurate. But Christian faith is less a matter of finding God and more an experience of being found by God. This happens in conversion, to be sure. But God continues to “find” us when we wander away. God loves to welcome us home.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
In the 1970s, Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) launched an evangelism campaign known as “I Found It.” Billboards, flyers, and bumper stickers featured the slogan “I Found It.” “It,” if my memory serves me well, was something like “new life in Jesus Christ.” Thousands upon thousands of Christians used the “I Found It” approach to talk with their friends and neighbors about Christ.
But the campaign was controversial, and not only in “secular” or “anti-Christian” circles. Many Christians criticized “I Found It” for its seemingly inadequate theology. The main criticism I heard was that Christians haven’t found “it.” Rather, we’ve found a person, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We didn’t find “it.”
I don’t remember hearing concern about the “I found” part of that slogan, though I’m sure some folks raised objections. Today, I’m not fond of the “it” language, but what worries me about “I Found It” is the assumption that Christianity is mainly a matter of finding something. Even if CRU had gone with “I Found Him,” that would still make me fret that people would think of being a Christian as centered in our own seeking and finding. And this, I think, puts the action in the wrong place.
The parable we call “The Prodigal Son” makes it abundantly clear that our relationship with God is mostly a matter, not of finding, but of being found. In fact, this is true throughout Luke 15. We are like a lost sheep found by a shepherd. We are like a lost coin found by a woman. And we are like a lost son found by a father. Better than “I Found It” would be “I’ve Been Found” or “God Found Me.”
As I think about Christians I have known, it seems that the ones who are most familiar with the “God Found Me” reality are those whose lives were pretty messed up before they came to faith. They experienced in a profound way the gracious “finding” of God. This is wonderful, to be sure. But it means that for people like me, who grew up in a Christian home and who “accepted Christ into my heart” at six years old, “God Found Me” is harder to relate to. My theology affirms “God Found Me,” but the story of my life is not one in which there was one, monumental, extraordinary, life-changing experience of being found by God’s grace.
What I do have, however, are dozens of experiences of being found by God in different seasons of my life. I think of times when I wandered away from the Lord but he drew me back. I remember seasons of doubt when God graciously revealed his presence to me. I recall moments of desperation in which God granted “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I think of the fact that, 58 years after I first accepted Jesus into my heart at a Billy Graham crusade, I am still walking with the Lord, not because I’m so good at finding God, but because God is so good at finding me.
When you first came to faith in Christ, did you experience this as God finding you? Why or why not?
Can you think of times in your life when you were “lost” and God “found” you? What was the experience of being found like for you?
Talk with a good friend or your small group about experiences you and they have had of God “finding” you.
Lord Jesus, once again I thank you for the parable of the lost son. Thank you for the reminder that my relationship with you is less a matter of my finding you and more an experience of your finding me. Thank you, Lord, for reaching out to me. Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for never turning your back on me. Thank you for the assurance that I belong to you because of your amazing grace. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Resolving Conflict (Philippians 4:2–9)
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.