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10 Ways to Identify Those Who Are Lost

those who are lost
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“The Son of Man has come to seek and save those who were lost.” (Luke 19:10). But How can we identify those who are lost?

Someone asked Daniel Boone if in all his wilderness travels he had ever been lost. “No,” he drawled, “but once I was bewildered for three whole days.” Bewildered in a wilderness. Sounds like the place to do that.

The great difficulty in rescuing the lost–the assignment God’s children have been handed by the Lord Jesus–is compounded when the subjects do not realize their dire situation. How would one go about convincing others they are among those who are lost? And why do that in the first place?

Clearly, if one is on-board the damaged Titanic and while scurrying to get off the doomed vessel with as many survivors as possible, he runs into partying passengers without the slightest awareness of their situation, he needs to tell them. He will want to alarm them even, and convince them to take action to save themselves. Whether they will listen is another story.

If we know the hurricane is coming and this neighborhood is about to be destroyed, we will do all in our power to alert the residents.

The days of our lives are finite and this world is doomed. Someone needs to tell the passengers.

In trying to alert the Titanic’s guests or the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward the day before Katrina, you would learn far more about the lostness of mankind in a few minutes than in all the years of your life to that point.

Anyone trying to save the lost–whether at sea, in penthouses having the time of their lives, in prisons, or sitting in comfortable pews with hymnals in their laps–is going to run into a number of realities concerning this condition.

Most lost people do not know they are lost. And many do not care.

The corollary to that is that God’s people often do not seem to know people are lost either. We get taken in by the impressive house they live in, the expensive clothes they wear, their suave manner, or by their religious ardor. If they are really cool, as celebrities and politicians are cool, we’re tempted to give them a pass.

Lost is lost. Those who are lost are people without God. They are in big trouble.

10 Ways to Identify Those Who Are Lost

Here are some of the ways we know those who are lost.

10. He has no concern about his situation.

Joseph Stowell, in a sermon some years back, told of the time his family lost their small son in a shopping mall. The family split up to look for him–one headed to the parking lot, another down this corridor, others the opposite way. Eventually, the grandfather arrived with the little boy in tow. “He was at the candy counter looking over his options,” he said, “completely unaware he was lost.”

Stowell says we are living in a candy-counter culture. People spend their days considering all the fun options before them without a clue that they are lost and in trouble.

9. He does not know there is an actual destination.

The typical lost-person today is like a farm animal grazing in the pasture–feeding here, resting there, looking for shade, never looking up for the source of life’s bounty, never asking the tough questions of life so long as his needs are met.

8. He thinks all roads are equally good, all exits the same, all religions share the same truths.

Often when leading a service at Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home in Metairie, Louisiana, I point something out to the audience. “Behind you and to my left are doors marked ‘exit.’ They lead outside. However, there are two doors to my right with unusual signs. ‘Not an exit.’ These don’t go anywhere. They’re storage closets.”

This world is filled with contradictory voices offering ways out, ways to God, ways to life and fulfillment. But most are dead ends. Only the way of Jesus Christ is truth. “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,” He said. “No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

7. The highest test he knows for his ultimate welfare is his feelings.

“I must be all right,” a man said to me. “I feel fine.” At church one Sunday, Mrs. Powell told me she was having toe surgery that week. “Don’t bother to come by the hospital,” she said. “This is so silly.”

I went anyway. And found her in enormous pain. “You could never have told me that toe surgery would hurt so much,” she said. I told her that two floors above her was a fellow church member who had suffered a heart attack. “But he feels great.”

Feelings are poor barometers of anything. The woman with the toe surgery felt awful but was doing fine. The heart attack victim felt fine but his life was hanging by a thread.

6. He rejects any claims of “the” way as too narrow, too demanding, too restrictive.

Returning to Stowell’s metaphor of being lost in the mall, I suspect we’ve all gotten turned around in one of these super shopping centers with corridors in every direction. However, we don’t panic, for two reasons. We know that spaced throughout the mall are directories telling us where we are located and showing where we want to be. Then, every door leads to the parking lot. Even if we exit on the wrong side of the facility, we can still find our way.

That thinking, however, does not apply in matters of the soul. The only way out of this morass we call earthly existence is to heed the calls of a friend who comes to find us and lead us out.

Discover five more ways to identify those who are lose on Page two . . .