Read: Luke 15:1-7; Mark 5:1-20; 2 Peter 3:9
When I studied history in school (study might be pushing it a bit) I recall many more details of earlier historical events than the more recent ones. For example, I remember little about World War II, but I recall quite a bit about the Civil War. Of course, what has shaped our country, whether recent, or not so recent history, is worthy of study.
My father served in World War Il, and those who remain to tell their stories from the war are becoming fewer and fewer. Therefore, now when I have a chance to hear a first-person account, I love to listen. That was the case this morning when I heard 104-year-old Gilbert Seltzer telling his granddaughter Sarah about what it was like being a platoon leader in the Ghost Army. I am sad to say that I hadn't heard about this incredible operation prior to today.
This group of 110,000 were artists, architects, actors and other creative people. Mr. Seltzer was an architectural draftsman. They used their skills to create mass deception. With the use of inflatable tanks, sounds that made it appear that massive troops had been deployed in an area and radio calls that mimicked the real thing, they deceived the Germans. They even planted false information through barroom conversations. The trickery was carried out so well that citizens believed that they had seen huge tanks that weren't there. Our imaginations, when stimulated can fool us! The diversion they helped create at the Rhine River fooled the enemy. Because of it, the real fighting force was able to cross at a place about 20 miles away, and they faced little resistance. I loved the historical truth, but my favorite thing that Gilbert Seltzer told his granddaughter came at the end of the recounting of his story. Some said their work saved 30,000 American lives. Gilbert said that he doubted that. Yet, he said if only one was saved, it was worth it! That is a loving thing to say. A reminder of the preciousness of even one life.
We, who believe what the scriptures say also believe that. Right away, in the first chapter of Genesis, we are reminded that human beings were created in the image and the likeness of God, Genesis 1:26-27. Imagine that, each person is an individual who, because he has an eternal spirit, might come into a relationship with the Living God. That makes each one valuable. No wonder the Bible teaches us about the heart of God and how He reaches out to save even one. Let's peek at a few examples of that truth.
In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus proclaimed the truth that one person is worth seeking. The religious leaders looked with disdain at those whom they considered unworthy of their time. They didn't want interaction with those whom they considered to be great sinners, such as the prostitutes and tax collectors. That is so different than the Savior's point of view. Rather than people to be avoided, the Master taught through His picture of the shepherd and the sheep that those who are lost are so precious that they should be pursued. Their repentance was a reason for rejoicing. The one who was rescued was a cause for heavenly celebration, not someone to be looked upon with contempt.
In Mark 5:1-20, we read about a man who lived in torment and how Jesus miraculously set him free. The story is an incredible picture of the life changing power of Jesus and the hardness of hearts of the people of the town. Although Jesus listened, allowing the demons to enter the pigs and also said yes, leaving when the people of the town asked Him to do so, He said no to the man He had healed. The Lord didn't allow the man He made new to follow Him. Instead, Jesus sent him back home with a message. He was to tell what God had done for him. There were those who needed to hear the first-hand account of how God had shown great mercy to this man, a man they had known. There were individuals there who no doubt knew this demoniac's "before story", and now they would both see and hear how he now lived, after Jesus' work on his behalf. Jesus cared not only for the one He healed and restored but also for the individuals whose lives could be touched because of His kindness.
There are many other stories in the scriptures of Jesus' one-on-one pursuing love. Among them are John 9:1-38; John 4:1-26; Luke 7:36-50. Each is a picture of 2 Peter 3:9, a reminder of the patient heart of God and that He desires that each person would come to Him, rather than perish without Him. Jesus has people in our lives that He is pursuing by the power of His Holy Spirit. He invites us to have the same heart that Mr. Seltzer demonstrated. The heart that knows that even one makes it worth our being faithful to what Jesus wants us to do. Perhaps it is a family member, a worker in the office, a classmate or someone in the neighborhood, whom Jesus has placed on our hearts. Since Jesus has died for him John 3:16 and He is seeking her, Luke 19:10, let's look at each one with His eyes. Since we have been chosen to be His priests, let's tell them what God is like and about the kindness He has shown us, 1 Peter 2:9-10.
Lord, Thank You for all of the men and women whose sacrifices have allowed us to remain free. Thank You that we can still share Your love and truth. Help us to look at each person with Your heart and Your eyes.