Broken but Valuable

I have a lot of broken stuff lying around, because I have no mechanical skills whatsoever. Yet I don’t throw stuff away. If it breaks, I’ll save it. Maybe I’ll find someone who knows how to fix it, or maybe it might just fix itself.

My wife, on the other hand, throws everything away. If we don’t need it anymore, then her approach is to throw it away. Meanwhile, I’ll save single socks, hoping the other ones somehow come back one day.

Things get lost, but they still have value.

That is what Jesus said regarding Zacchaeus, a tax collector: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10 NLT). In the original language, the word lost that Jesus used speaks of something that has value but is simply broken.

Jesus was saying to the people in Zacchaeus’s hometown, “You guys all hate Zacchaeus. He is lost, but he is valuable. He’s just broken.”

Sometimes we forget that. We look at sinful people and find ourselves disliking them, maybe even hating them sometimes. We fail to separate the sinner from the sin. But as Christians, we’re supposed to hate the sin and love the sinner. Yet sometimes we hate both the sinner and the sin.

We need to look at them in a new light and think of them as people who are simply broken. And guess what? God can fix them.

However, I think we Christians have a challenging task before us now as we seek to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. When I was doing an interview awhile back, someone asked me what’s different today than when I first started preaching.

I think the difference is greater biblical illiteracy. It used to be that when I mentioned Bible stories, people had a general idea of what I was talking about. But today they don’t.

When I was in school, we could still study the Bible as literature. Even though the Bible wasn’t regarded as the Word of God, it still was regarded as a great book of literary value. Today you can forget about finding a Bible anywhere near a classroom. And forget about people even being exposed to these truths unless they’re raised in a Christian home.

Fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels. Sixty percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. Eighty-two percent of Americans believe the phrase “God helps those that help themselves” is in the Bible.

But it gets worse.

12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that more than 50 percent thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. And a considerable amount of people believe the Sermon on the Mount was delivered by Billy Graham.

That is radical biblical illiteracy.

Jesus said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37 NLT). In the first century, a good crop was of the greatest value. It could feed a family and support them. Every stalk of wheat had great value. Not one was to be wasted. But if a crop wasn’t harvested quickly, the birds would come and eat what was left behind, and it would be lost.

God said to the prophet Ezekiel, “Behold, all souls are Mine” (Ezekiel 18:4 NKJV).

In 2012, a woman in New Mexico tried to sell her soul on eBay, with bids starting at $2,000. She was quoted as saying, “I don’t feel good. I’m near the end of my rope. . . . I really am.”

There were no takers that we know of. But there is one after all, and it’s Jesus. He paid for her soul at the cross, and he will forgive her.

The spiritual harvest is plentiful, and we need to do all that we can while we can.

Some people are critical of what they call “mass evangelism,” which is a term they use to denigrate proclaiming the gospel to as many people as possible at one time. They say they’re more into personal, or one-on-one, evangelism.

Well, God is into both.

We can find both in the Scriptures. We find personal evangelism as Jesus talked with the woman at the well in Samaria and as Philip spoke to the man from Ethiopia. Then we find mass evangelism as Peter proclaimed the gospel in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, and 3,000 people believed (which means that someone actually took the time to count how many people responded).

We see in the New Testament that when God reached someone, he did so through another person in almost every instance. God wants to reach people through people.

Consider these words from the apostle Paul: “When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:20–21 NLT).

Paul concluded, “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (verse 22 NLT).

His point was to bring people to Christ.

I think sometimes people are very quick to criticize and dismiss. Yet the critics are many. The observers are many. And the laborers are few.

Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.

This article was originally published at

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