8th October 2017

Unclaimed Baggage 

“We love Him [God] because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:19 (NKJV)
 

Have you ever seen that one last bag circling an otherwise empty baggage claim and wondered what happens if no one claims it? Well, here’s one possibility. Here in the USA it could end up at the Unclaimed Baggage Centre in Scottsboro, Alabama. This museum buys unclaimed bags from airlines, who sell them after the expiration of the mandatory claim period during which they search for the bag’s owners. The Centre then displays, donates, or sells the contents of each bag. This can lead to some truly amazing stories. One of my favourites is of a customer who bought a pair of ski boots for his wife from the Centre, only to discover that they were the very same favourite pair of ski boots she had lost on a ski trip two years before. When he brought them home, she found her own maiden name written on the tag!

That story reminded me of a parable from the gospel of Luke, where Jesus talked about a shepherd who loses just one member of his flock, and rejoices when he finds it, calling all his friends up to help him celebrate the return of his one lost sheep. “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:4-7 NLT)

Now, I’m sure this woman who found her lost ski boots could have just purchased new ones. But what do you think? Would she be happier with a new pair, or rediscovering the old ones that she knew and loved and which had her own name written on them? In a much more powerful way, God too has claimed us as his own. In fact, he even tells us that, “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16 NIV).

But it seems that many people go through their lives resisting that very love, turning away from God at every opportunity, or simply ignoring him whenever possible. And of course many are deceived about the very nature and character of God, having heard lies about him or misunderstood what God is doing in the world—or even in their own lives. So is it really any surprise that all of heaven throws a party for even one man or woman who repents and turns back to Jesus? Jesus’ whole life and ministry was to seek and find the lost and make a way for them to return to their heavenly Father by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And as members of Christ’s flock, whose names have been engraved on his hands, we’re assured that this is our eternal reality as well. We will never be ‘unclaimed’. That seems a pretty great reason to celebrate as well! 

Prayer
Loving Father, you have innumerable expressions of your love recorded for us in your Scriptures. Only oftentimes we fail to see them, or to apply them to ourselves. Sometimes we don’t know or don’t believe that you could love us; sometimes we can’t believe that you could love us. Help us in our unbelief! We pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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