In one of Jesus’ best-known parables a shepherd gives particular attention to one sheep, rather than to 99 others. The reason that He gives particular attention to the one sheep is because it is the one that’s in trouble; it is ‘lost’, and its wellbeing and existence are precarious and threatened. At that time the 99 other sheep don’t need the shepherd’s particular attention, because they are safe and sound within the sheepfold.
This parable is of course about God’s saving grace toward all people. All people are by nature lost and need saving. To emphasise this truth, God’s grace always gravitates first to the obviously most lost, needy and broken (the spiritually, physically and socially broken). That “He executes justice for the orphan and the widows, loves the foreigner, and gives them food and clothing” (Deut 10:18) is the emphasis of the Bible.
Is there within our societies prejudice or racism, however subtle or overt, which may contradict the truth that all people are made in God’s image? From what I know of situations in other countries, and from the experience of Aboriginal Australians, I have to say, yes, there is.
Of course, just as the lives of each of the other 99 sheep are as important to the shepherd as the one who is lost, so too the life of every person is just as much the object of God’s love and grace as those who are in trouble. However, where the obviously needy, broken and lost are seen, it is at times important to stipulate, “Yes, the life of that one in particular, matters.”
Emphasise grace to the ones who are most in trouble. Black lives matter.
Grace and peace, Jonathan.