Search Mode

(The following is a transcript of Bill Hybel’s “Search Mode” message, part IV of our Expectant series. The video is also available to you here.)

One of the most transforming experiences of my whole life... happened in a thirty-minute time span while I was studying three little stories from Luke chapter 15. I’d like to tell you about it. And the first question that you’re already asking is, “Can you tell us about it in thirty minutes or less?”

No. But I’m gonna try.

So I was in my twenties. I was sitting in our rented offices while this church was still meeting in the rented movie theater. I’m innocently reading through Luke 15, which, as you know, contains three memorable stories. The first story is that of a shepherd that has a hundred sheep, and one wanders off. And the shepherd is concerned—goes to look for it. Searches high and low. Finds it! And the text says joyfully takes that sheep back to the others. Later on, he calls his shepherd friends, and they have a great big party to celebrate that that wandering sheep was found... and brought back to the fold.

The second story is a woman who has ten silver coins. Every one of them valuable in her day. And she loses one. She lights a lamp, the text says, sweeps the entire house, hoping to find the misplaced coin. And finally she finds it. And she calls her friends and throws a party for her good fortune of finding that lost coin.

The third story you all know. There’s a man who has... two boys. One gets restless and rebellious and asks for his inheritance early. When he gets it, he heads off to a distant country. And in no time at all, he blows all of his inheritance on wine, women, and songs. (But no one really thinks that he sang that much.) And when he was penniless long enough, he gets a job feeding pigs. And when the husks he was feeding the pigs started to look tasty to him... the Bible says he hit bottom. Its exact phraseology is: “He came to his senses.” It’s a rich phrase, if you think about.

He remembered that his dad’s servants ate better meals and slept in better beds than he’s sleeping in these days. So he decided, hang on, to humble... himself. And to go home.

On the way home, he’s practicing his apology speech. “Dad... dad... I wronged you. I was rebellious, greedy, and then stupid! I have forfeited the right to ever be thought of as your son. I understand that. But, Dad, if you can find it in your heart to take me in as a common servant, no special treatment for me, just work me hard along with all the rest of the servants. But if you can provide room and board like you do for the other servants, that would be outrageously generous of you after the foolishness that I have brought on this family and after the ways that I have disappointed you.” He’s practicing this speech on his way back home. He doesn’t know what’s gonna happen... if his dad’s gonna buy it or... whatever.

So he’s practicing, and off in the distance, he sees a man running his way—he can’t sort it out. And then, all of a sudden, he realizes this man has his arms spread wide. And it’s... his glance looks like it’s filled with love and affection. And before he can sort out what’s really going on here, he realizes it’s his dad, and his dad wraps his arms around him and hugs him and kisses him, and he can’t stop saying, “I’m so glad to see you, son. It’s so good to have you home. I missed you so much. Ahh.”

The rebellious son is determined to get his apology speech in. He’s been practicing. And he really does feel bad. So he starts in, but his dad cuts him off midsentence and says, “Take a shower and get cleaned up, because I have a brand-new designer robe for you. I’ve got cool new sandals for you. And I’m gonna put a ring on your finger that I’m gonna ask you to never take off. You’re gonna be my son forever.”

And his dad says, “I’m gonna call every friend I have—throw the biggest party I’ve ever thrown. And we are gonna eat and drink and dance all night because I thought... you were gone for good! Worse, I thought you might be dead. And now to see you again... and to have you home... it’s just the absolute best.”

So the story ends with the description of how raucous the party was and how tweaked the older brother got over the attention that the younger brother was getting. That’s a whole other story. All to say, the father of that wayward son went nuts... over that son’s return. He was so unbelievably happy... to have his boy back.

Let me remind you, I’m in my mid-twenties in a rented office. I’ve had no seminary training. Had just come out of the business world. I didn’t know how to use Bible commentaries, Journey resources like you get to use. I just had an open Bible and a sincere desire to learn more about the God who wrote this thing.

And, all of a sudden, as I’m reading Luke 15, the Spirit prompts me with a series of questions. And if you’re wondering, I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. Not even one time. I do get impressions... that, if I think about them, I realize are not self-generated. And I put them through a little filtering process, and some of them I discern are actually from God.

So I got this impression... a question. Bill, do you think these three stories in Luke 15 are totally random? Do you think they have separate meanings? Do you think if you ever preached about it, they ought to be preached on different Sundays, perhaps? Or do you think these three stories are told together for a reason, and might they combine to pack a triple, powerful punch?

I didn’t know the answer. I had just read them. And before I could address that, another question came: Bill, do you even remember why Jesus told these three stories in the first place? And I admitted that I didn’t. And so He said, Well, maybe start there. So I said, Okay, maybe I will.

And I looked in Luke 15, verses 1 and 2. And... here’s what it said:

Now [the] tax extortioners, and other various kinds of sinners, had all gathered around Jesus to hear him teach. This caused the Pharisees and [the] other religious experts to mutter, “[He] welcomes sinners and [he] eats with them.”

Which doesn’t mean much in this day, but I’m going to explain how much it meant in that day. He welcomes... these people. And he eats with them.

Do you wanna know what bothered Jesus so much... that He decided I’m gonna tell you not one, not two, but three stories back to back to back—I’m gonna rapid fire truth into you to penetrate the... ignorance and the arrogance... of the hearts of people who don’t understand the heart of God?

So what bothered Jesus was the contempt... that the Pharisees harbored in their hearts for anyone less religious, less spiritual, or a little different from themselves. He... the contempt... just bothered Jesus to no end. And, actually, it’s worse than just contempt. Here’s how the Pharisees did their math.

It began with: “We, the Pharisees, are God’s chosen ones. Obviously. And we bust it every day to live by His rules, to stay in His good graces. We fly straight! It’s back breaking, but we do it, and we do it pretty much perfectly. Cause we’re religious. And we’re Pharisees. These other scoundrels that are gathered around Jesus right now? They don’t give a rip about the Father. They’re not attending worship gatherings. They don’t study God’s Word. They say bad words. They sleep in the wrong bed. They party till all hours of the night. They lie, cheat, and steal. We can’t stand them”—now, hang on—“and we know for absolute sure that the God in heaven—the perfect, righteous God in heaven—can’t stand them either. How could He?”

So now they reason, “Hey, if Jesus is walking around claiming to be God’s Son, God in the flesh... he wouldn’t be able to stand these scoundrels either! But it’s obvious to any and all that not only does He sort of tolerate these people... he welcomes them to his gatherings. He eats three-hour dinners with them...” Cause that’s the custom in the Middle East—still, to this day, if you get invited over to an Israeli or Palestinian or Jordanian dinner, get comfortable. It’s gonna take a long time. Okay? And they’re saying, “He welcomes these scoundrels to his meetings, and he has three hours’ worth of dinner with them.”

I think you know what they’re accusing him of. Catch this. I think they’re saying, “He’s actually quite fond... of these misfits. So he cannot possibly be God’s son. Right? Cause God hates ‘em. We hate ‘em. Jesus ought to fall in line with the rest of us and hate ‘em as well.” Okay?

What do you think of the Pharisees’ math? There’s some people we hate, we know God hates, and Jesus ought to hate ‘em so it’s all good.

Before we... undo their math anymore... just a quick question to all of you. Who do you think—who are you pretty sure God can’t stand? Okay?

Most people don’t like to talk about this. Certainly not politically correct. And it’s really not spiritually correct. But, truth be told, there’s a lot of Christ followers who walk around with great certainty in their minds and hearts of who God can’t stand. Can I name a few? Democrats. I mean, come on, how could He? Oh, my gosh! How could He?

What about NFL players who don’t respect our flag? Oh, oh, careful. What about people who respect the flag but don’t respect... the racial... tension and oppression that’s still going on in our land?

Some people walk around pretty sure that God can’t stand illegal immigrants. Others walk around thinking He can’t stand people who set up sanctuary cities.

We, you know, Packer fans, of course. We know. Everyone in New York City—how could He stand them, you know?

Almost everyone I know walks around with just a little list they rarely talk about, and they have surprising certainty... about who God hates. And then, as the math go, you see, this gives them the right to hate them as well. If God hates them, and I’m a child of God, then I can get on that hate train... and ride it with God, and we’ll both hate ‘em. Kay?

Which is why, parenthetically, many of the bloodiest conflicts throughout history have religious rationales somewhere in the mix of the justifications for bullets, bombs, and genocides. Cause it’s us and God collaborating to exterminate... or to oppress... or to get rid of a group of people.

We’re not gonna go very far down that trail. I wanna go back to the rented office. Sometime in the late 70s while I’m realizing for the first time in my life why Jesus told the three stories in Luke 15. It was in response to the Pharisees’ contempt... for people less spiritual, people different from them. And Jesus is gonna respond to their contempt. And He could’ve confronted them straight up. But He does something far more creative and, I would argue, far more... effective.

He says, “Hey, gang, I’m gonna tell you three stories. And then you figure out... why I told them.”

So He tells the three stories that I just related to you. And then, if you think about it, there’s common themes in these stories. The first obvious common theme is that in each of the three stories something of value... winds up missing. A sheep. A Coin. A son. Now, the sheep is one of a hundred, but... one of a hundred, that matters. A coin is one of ten. Now... see how the drama’s increasing? And then, when He tells the third story, He goes, “The father only has two boys.” A hundred to one. Ten to one. Two to one. He’s just drawing everybody in. Letting the tension build.

So He says, if you think about it, something of value winds up missing. And... stay with me... that which is missing in these three stories... really, really matters to somebody! The sheep really matters to the shepherd, and if you understood sheep herding in the first century, you would understand... more. We don’t have time to get into that now.

The coin really matters to the woman. Could be a tenth of her whole... net worth.

If you’ve had any children ever before in your life... and if one of them winds up... in a distant country... in a self-destructive lifestyle... do I gotta talk to you about how much that matters? Nope.

So now, imagine the Pharisees. Who are deeply offended that Jesus is hanging around with the riff raff, see. Imagine them listening to these three stories back to back to back. And then, later on that day, after Jesus has already left to go on to another town, imagine them sitting in a circle around a campfire, wondering about the meaning of the three stories.

 

Maybe one of the Pharisees goes, “Hey, guys, wait. Think about it. In each of the three stories, something of value wound up missing.”

And they go, “Oh, yeah, we all caught that, too.” Dot, dot, dot.

“And that which is missing... really, really, really mattered to somebody!” 

And someone goes, “Oh, hey, wait. Before you take that too far. You don’t think... You- Jesus could not possibly have been suggesting... that the sin-infested scoundrels that were gathered around him today represented something of value... to someone in heaven.”

Another guy goes, “I don’t like the road you’re going down, but it, it might be worse. He might’ve been suggesting that those despicable people... really, really matter to God the Father!”

Is that what Jesus was saying? Is that what these stories are... alluding to?

So, gang, again, I’m like... mid-twenties. Not seminary trained. And I’m just asking God to speak to me by His Word. And that’s the conclusion that I came to. And it almost made my head explode. That anyone, any human being, who is missing from God’s family, who has wandered away, who is lost... anyone who is missing from God’s family for whatever reason... still has enormous value to God! And they all, no matter how they’re living, still really, really, really matter to the Father.

You name another God... in the cosmos who has a heart like that. A God who still values people who thumb their nose at him. Who commit cosmic treason again and again. And who keep running away. And here’s a God who says, “I still love you, I still value you, you still matter to me. You really, really still matter to me.”

 

When that all came clear to me that day in those rented offices, I... I said, you know what just happened to me? I just lost... my moral justification to hate anybody.

Worse. I lost my religious leverage... to write off individual or whole people groups that annoy me. Why? Because whether it fits my fancy or my theological paradigm in the past, these stories reveal that... all people... in whatever condition... no matter how screwed up they are or how far away they’ve wandered... they still really matter to the Father, and, hang on, which means... they ought to matter to me.

Please get that math.

If you claim that, through Christ, God is your Father... spiritual-formation doctrine would say that what God’s trying to do is put His heart in you. He’s trying to shape your heart to be more like His heart. So, over time, as you grow up as a Christ follower... the concept is... you learn that all people, in whatever condition, matter to the Father, and you go, “Then, therefore, that’s what God’s trying to shape me into. It is to be someone for whom all these wandering people still matter.”

So in the office that day, I’m like, “Okay, these people matter to God. They ought to matter to me.” And before I move on in the teaching, you know what I wanna say to you straight up? They ought to matter to you. Every... single... one of you.

And if you’re choking on this... yeah. It does get worse. Because the second common thread in all three of these stories? Is that whatever winds up missing—you know, that really mattered to someone—mattered enough to warrant an all-out search! How much do they matter? Mattered enough to warrant an all-out search. The shepherd just... I mean, he leaves ninety-nine sheep in peril to go search high and low, day or night, to rescue that wandering sheep. And the woman would’ve swept that house a hundred times... to find that lost coin. And the Father’s been searching the horizon every single day to see if his son might return. Which probably suggests, if you just look at the text... that our God... looks at people all over the planet. And even if they’re still running away from Him... they are of enough value to Him... that He’s going to search for them. He’s going to search for them.

If you’re fuzzy about this, one time, Jesus was asked by some religious experts, “Why did you come here anyway? Supposedly you’re God in the flesh, you’ve been up in heaven. So why did you come to planet Earth?”

And Jesus said, “Well, I’ll reveal my strategic intent.” Luke 19:10:

[I came] to seek and to save. [I’m on a rescue mission. I’m on a search.]

I came to seek and to save that which is lost.  

I don’t know how many of you ever... I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t. I don’t know how many of you have ever been involved in an intense search operation. Maybe some of you have. First time I ever had it happen to me was on the shores of Lake Michigan. When I got into wind surfing. And, back in the day, I really got hooked on wind surfing—it was like an obsession. And so... I first bought a big board with a loose, floppy sail. And then I got good enough that I got a smaller board with a better sail and, you know, several years into this obsession, I had a small board with an extremely high-performance sail, and when the breeze really blew up, and the waves were... building... I could go out. And I could get a lot of air and do a lot of trick stuff. I was into it.

Well, Todd, my son, my only son... he was... four or five years old at the time. And he used to sit on the beach and watch me do all this crazy stuff. And, one day, Lynne and Shauna had gone back up to the cottage to fix dinner or something. And I’m coming in from... some real high-velocity... you know... sporting... on that windsurfer. And I come flying up on the beach and... Todd, again, between four and five years old, and he can swim a little, but like ten feet, right? Dog paddle. And he goes, “Dad, take me out on that board!”

Well, we had done this in peaceful conditions many times. He would stand between my legs, hold up on to the boom, and I would put my arms around his little hands, and we’d have a ball.

These conditions were way too dangerous to have that kid out on the board with me. And I realized he didn’t have a life jacket. I didn’t have a life jacket. Lynne had already brought ‘em up to the cottage. And he’s like, “Come on, Dad! Come on! Just one short ride.”

Yeah.

Against my better judgment, I said, “Okay, man, one short ride.” So he climbs on. And we go out. And... we’re hitting waves, and the wind is building, and he’s having such a ball. I said, “I gotta, think I ought to turn around.”

He goes, “Oh, a little further! Little further!”

Long story short, I launch off a wave... and I lost control of the board. I went one way. He went another way. And the board... sort of did endos, okay? And the sail, and all that. And when I came up from out of the water, I knew... that I had about ten seconds to find this kid. He couldn’t swim very well. And if you know anything about the undulations patterns of waves... in big-wave situations, you could be ten feet away from someone, and if they’re in a trough, and you’re on a crest, you can’t see them. And that was the condition I was in. So when I was up on the crest of a wave, I could barely see where the wind surfer was, as the wind was quickly blowing it away, and I couldn’t see Todd’s head.

So then I’d go down into a trough and couldn’t see anything; when I’d come back on the crest, I couldn’t see anything. And I’m counting down ten, nine, eight, seven, six, and I’m like... this kid’s gonna drown.

And I started screaming his name. And I actually screamed his name so many times so loudly that I tore my vocal chords. And then I realized, he’s not going to hear me. So I just have to swim like a madman... to hopefully bump into him out here, and I’m already out of time. I had just made that decision. I came up on a crest. And he came up on a crest. I saw his little blond hair. I went and grabbed a hold of that kid... and I put him on the board. And got the board and the sail and him back to the beach.

And when I did, get back to the beach, I put my hands on his little shoulders, and I said, “We do not need to tell your mother about this. I am... really glad you’re alive, but I’m gonna be dead if you tell her about this. So, you know? This is a guy thing, right?”

And he’s like, “Yeah, okay.” Yeah.

During those ten or fifteen seconds... my net worth, the size of this church, what kind of house we lived in—there was no other interest on my mind but finding that kid that I loved. Okay?

Shortly after nine-one-one, when the Twin Towers came down in New York, I was invited to be a part of a group of ministers who were asked to be right down in the fresh rubble, to minister to first responders and to people who were still being rescued. It wasn’t something I was excited about doing—I knew it was the right thing to do.

So I went out there. And it was... the closest thing to like combat as I’ll probably ever—hopefully—that I’ll ever get to. It was... terrible... to see people with missing limbs and crushed... torsos and... and watch firemen find buddies who had died. And, I mean, I was right there in the thick of that. And it was terrible.

But what made it even worse is our work got interrupted several times. We had to wear minister’s tags. So some people would rush up to us, and they would have—some of them had like goggles and they’d have surgical masks on, and they would show pictures, they would say, “Have you seen this person? This is my mom. Have you seen her?”

And I’m like, “Dude, I just... no, I haven’t.” You know?

And then there’d be other people come running up to us: “This is my son, and he’s missing. Could you help us find him?”

I’m like, “Wh... we got a lot going on here.”

And over the normal course of the next couple days—and you can go on the internet and probably still see these pictures today—New York City officials built like a bulletin board that stretched for blocks. And people with loved ones in the towers that had fallen, that they didn’t know if they were dead or alive, they would put pictures of all their loved ones, and they’d just walk around, and just searching and asking people, “Could you help me find, could you help me find, could you...”

They were obsessed... with the search. Okay? Those are the only two times I’ve been real close to intense searches.

If you read this text and understand what Jesus was driving at here... Jesus is saying, “You think my Father... thinks ill of these people who are hanging around Me? It’s actually much different than that. He is on a life-or-death all-out search driven by love, trying to rescue each and every one.” Okay? That’s the Father’s heart.

And... one of the coolest things about Christianity is that when you finally get redeemed, however your story unfolds and you wind up in God’s family, okay? Someday, you’re gonna sit down, and you’re gonna realize that throughout the course of your life—before your redemption day—throughout the course of your whole life, you’re gonna start seeing ways that God had been reaching out to you. Ways that He had been searching for you.

Ways that He had put other people in your life to direct you His way. Resources. Opportunities. Experiences. And, at some point in time, what’s supposed to happen... is when you find that you’re not only someone who has great value to the Father—you are someone who has been the object of an intense love-driven search. And when that all... gets clear to you... at a point in time... it ought to just blow your mind. It ought to fill you with worship.

And... it ought to motivate you to become the kind of person who joins... God’s search team... as He’s trying... to seek and to rescue those who have wandered away.

You ought to be wired up like the shepherd who’s searching for wandering people. You ought to be wired up like the woman... who’s looking for that coin. And the son who’s looking over the horizon.

There’s... I was thinking about this, this week. You know how Jesus died. It was on a cross like this. And I don’t wanna say overtly too crassly how did Jesus actually die, really? He bled out. That’s cause of death. He bled out. Just before He bled out, He’s reaching out, not to a model citizen, He’s reaching out to a guy whose life was so screwed up that he wound up receiving the death penalty. And Jesus, with whatever little blood He’s got left in His body that’s keeping Him alive, reaches out and goes, “Today, you can be with me in paradise, dude.”

You were searched for.

...with the last drops of blood that Jesus had in His body. That kind of intensity. And when you get found, that ought to stir you, and you ought to join His search effort and be the kind of person who’s reaching out to family and friends and praying for people at work and having dinner conversations and inviting people to church and all of that.

But what I find, and I won’t spend long on this, cause it just hurts me to even talk about this at Willow...

There are Willow members who used to be fired up about the fact that they had been searched for and found. And so they joined God’s search team, and they were fired up to align with the purposes of God to search those who are still wandering, missing, and so. And then, at a certain point in time, the wonder of their rescue... left them. They opted out of the search team. They’re not looking for people anymore.

And if you stay out of the search effort long enough, former searchers become... judgers.

And judgers... become condemners.

Just like the Pharisees. They become people... who are go-to-hell-ers. Pretty sure that God can’t stand this group. They can’t stand this group. Jesus doesn’t like these people so... you’re justified to hate. And when that happens, when someone who’s been searched for and rescued opts off the search team and becomes a judger... rivers of tears flow out of heaven. It was never supposed to happen like that.

And don’t... let... that happen... to you. Don’t become that kind of person.

Well, there’s one more common theme. There’s something of value wound up missing, and it mattered, and that which is missing mattered enough to... bring an all-out search. The third, final common theme is retrievals bring rejoicing.

What motivates a shepherd to throw a great big party over just one sheep?! But he does.

What motivates a woman... the coin didn’t go that far! It was still in her house. Might’ve just been six feet away. But she finds it. What motivates her to throw a great big party with all her friends?

It’s a little more understandable with the father whose son was in a bad place.

Luke 15:10 says, “I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of [heaven] when a single sinner”—when a single sinner—“repents.”

So one last time, let me take you back to the rented offices where I’m sitting in my chair, reading these stories and realizing there’s common themes, and I’m trying to put all this together, and my head’s being blown, okay? And I started to look at that phrase from Luke 15:10, you know, that there’s rejoicing in the presence of the angels of heaven. And I thought, well, that’s like a party. All three of these stories have parties in it. I wonder what a party in heaven looks like.

Well, I’d never thought about it before. You probably have, but I hadn’t, so I just leaned back in my office chair, and I said, well, I’m just going to imagine. It doesn’t give details in the text, so I’m just gonna imagine.

So I imagine... a large, ornate ballroom... just my weird imagination... hundreds of tables, round tables, white tablecloths, thousands of angels sitting around them. Amazing food and drink. Incredible music—if angels are making it, my gosh, it better be good. And then, up in the front of the ballroom, I just imagine a head table with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sitting at it. And there’s joy and laughter and fellowship all over this big ballroom. And then, over the head table—just my imagination now—I imagine this banner. And at one point in the evening, couple angels come and lower the banner. And one artistic angel takes some paint of some kind and paints a name on the banner. Perfectly spelled, of course. And then, at a certain point, God the Father hits a wine glass with a piece of silverware... quiets everyone down and says, “The reason for tonight’s celebration... is that a man named... whatever... a woman named what... a student named whatever—” and He reads the name, and the angels erect that banner with that name on it.

And God says, “We’ve had a sinner come Home. We had a sheep that got rescued! A coin that got... we had- we have a son... who came back Home.” And then there’s a raucous celebration for hours afterward. So that was the first time I ever thought about that. And I thought, it’s pretty cool.

And the Holy Spirit said, Hang with me. One more movement here.

I was like, I don’t know what it is.

He goes, Think of the party again.

So I rethink the whole thing—ornate ballroom, round tables, angels at ‘em... you know, all this kind of stuff. Banner coming down. Angel does his job putting a name on the banner. God clinks the wine glass. He goes, “Ladies and gentlemen,” whatever, you know...

“The person we’re celebrating tonight,” The banner goes up...

First time I ever thought this thought in my life. My name on the banner. Bill Hybels on the banner. I was just like... oh... are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?

I grew up in a home where we skipped my birthday for a couple of years at a time. We didn’t, we didn’t, we were hardworking. My dad was gone a lot. My mom was busy with five kids. Nobody ever made a big deal about that kind of stuff for me when I was growing up.

And there’s a party all across heaven. And everybody’s like going nuts—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and all this stuff—because when I was seventeen... I came to my senses on a summer night in August of ’68 and came home and humbled myself...

Something changed when I saw my name on that banner. I’ve never been able to quite fasten that back down. I’ve never been able to go to the pre... days of understanding that amazing truth. But it gets better. So you imagine with me now... ornate ballroom. Round tables. Angels all over the place. Great music. Tables set. All that kind of stuff. Certain point, the banner with no name on it comes down. Angel does his work. God the Father... hits the wine glass and says, “Hey, everybody. We had another person come Home today. That’s why we’re partying tonight.” And they raise the banner up over the head table. And the name on the banner—are you ready for it?—it’s your name. And your name. And your name. And your name. And your name. And your name. And your name.

And everybody gets up. And there’s this raucous celebration for hours... over you. Over you.

These are spiritual concepts that are far more than religious creed to me. These are passages in Scripture that wreck me. These are passages in Scripture that affect me on such a deep level... that they reorder my steps. And they reorder the affections of my heart. Because I long for the day when every family member, every friend, every colleague, every neighbor in my neighborhood knows what it feels like... to be loved by the Father. To be cleansed by Christ the Son. To be filled with the Holy Spirit. And to be celebrated for all across heaven. I want that for everybody.

And when you understand these things, I think you want the same things, too...

...You’ve heard me say this before. What differentiates Christianity from every other religion in the world is that every other religion in the world, there’s a to-do list, and you better get it right, and you better do enough of it, or you’re out. And Christianity doesn’t have a to-do list. It shows you something that has been done... for you. Jesus Christ died a substitutionary death. That’s been done for you... so you could take your wrongdoings and rebellion and all the mistakes that the rebellious son in Luke 15 did... you can’t clean all that junk up on your own. That’s why Christ went to the cross. To cleanse all of that. That’s been done.

Your job is to ask for Christ’s work on the cross to be applied to your pile of moral debt. And then, by faith, reach out for the hand from heaven that’s already outstretched to you, grab hold of it, and say, “I don’t want to live apart from Your program anymore, God. I don’t wanna live in a distant land. I wanna be Home. Home with You. Home with the Father. Home in a family of like-minded believers who are doing something with our lives. Fixing what’s broken in this world and headed toward heaven someday...”