Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is emphasizing during his Christmas sermons that God’s mission during the holiday is to seek and save the lost.
Being spiritually lost means to be separated from God, explained Warren, senior pastor of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., in his Christmas message for the Internet campus on Christmas Eve. The theme of Warren’s message this Christmas is “Lost and Found: God’s Rescue Mission at Christmas.”
When we are lost, Warren said, we lose five things: direction in life, God’s protection, our potential, our happiness and our home in heaven. But the good news, the pastor went on to say, is that we don’t lose one thing even when we are spiritually lost – and that’s our value to God.
In fact, the value of a thing increases when it is lost. God, he said, does everything to find you, like the parables of the shepherd searching for his lost sheep found in Luke 15:1-7, the woman searching for her lost coin in Luke 15:8-10, or the father running out to greet his lost son in Luke 15:11-31. The pastor based his sermon on the three stories on lost and found in the Gospel of Luke.
Warren, author of the bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life, reminded the audience of John 3:16: “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.”
The common denominator in the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son is they all talk about a party, he pointed out; “Christmas is one giant party” of how God loves you and how much he wants to reconnect with you, Warren noted.
Like the shepherd in the lost sheep story, Jesus came to rescue people, the pastor said. You can’t rescue yourself, but everyone needs a savior.
“Some problems are not solved by trying, but by trusting God,” the California megachurch pastor said.
Jesus came to recover people, like the woman who lost her coin recovered it, he added. With God, you recover what you have lost, including a personal recovery, including joy and reputation. And then, like the father running out to greet his son, God reconnects you to Himself, Warren said.
When you wander off, the pastor stressed, you are on your own, and that gives you stress that God never intended for you. No one seeks to get lost, he clarified, but we go astray by our own nature.
“All of us have strayed away just like lost sheep. We’ve all left God’s path to follow our own ways,” he quoted from Isaiah 53:6.
But this Christmas, remember what Jesus says in Luke 19:10, “I have come to seek and to save those who are lost.”