Celebrating God’s heart for the nations


Under the title of A father’s Heart for his lost sons – God’s Heart for the Nations, three familiar parables from Luke 15, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son(s), formed the basis of Dr Bogunjoko’s first keynote address to the SIM 125th Anniversary event in Blantyre

 Not many leaders of an organisation celebrating 125 years of work and service would use the phrase “Our purpose is not to outline the achievements of SIM as SIM has achieved nothing!” But Dr Joshua Bogunjoko did use that phrase at the celebration event in Blantyre to mark 125 years of SIM.

He did then go on to clarify that SIM has achieved nothing because “The Lord has achieved everything!”

He also said that while SIM was celebrating 125 years this year, some of the organisations which make up the modern SIM ‘family’ have been in existence for longer.

 “This year is a convenient point for us in SIM to celebrate 125 years,” he said.

“But Middle East Christian Outreach [the newest member of the SIM family] was founded in 1860, South Africa General Mission in 1889. In addition, Andes Evangelical Mission, Indian Village Mission and Pune Village Mission, all like SIM, were founded in 1893 so today we are celebrating the work of multiple mission organisations around the world which make up SIM.”

But under all of the celebrations for organisations, he spoke of celebrating the work the Lord has done, and is still doing, in calling people who were lost to His kingdom and then equipping them to go as save those that are still lost.

The first two parables in Luke 15 (the Sheep and the Coin) show people who will stop at nothing to find what is lost and then rejoice when what is lost is found.

But the parable of the Lost Son is different because while something, or someone in this case, is lost, no one is looking for him. It takes a change of heart on the part of the younger son to turn the story around. But it also illustrates how BOTH sons were lost to the father in different ways.

He asked us to compare the attitudes of the two sets of people to whom Jesus was speaking. On the one hand are the ‘Outsiders’ – the tax collectors and ‘sinners’; while on the other hand were the ‘Insiders’ – the religious leaders, the Scribes and the Pharisees. The former group was listening to Jesus while the latter was complaining about Him mixing with ‘sinners’.

“God desires that the sinners and tax collectors come to know and enjoy Him” he said.

“Someone, like the shepherd and the woman, ought to seek for them, ought to search until found, ought to be inviting them back to the father’s house. But who among the self-righteous religious leaders will do that?

“In the Old Testament, God clearly told the people of Israel that through them the Light of His truth will shine upon the gentiles. He said:  "I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. (Isa 42:6-7).”

He then turned his attention to the two sons in the parable and looked at them in the light of the people to whom He was telling the parable.

“Just as this [older] son was totally lost to the Father’s heart, so were the Pharisees and Scribes lost to the loving and seeking heart of God,” he said.

“One son was lost to the Father’s house; the other was lost to the father’s heart.

“One departed from the Father’s presence, the other departed from the father’s longings.

“One needed restoration from his own folly, the other needed redemption from his own works.

“One recognizes his emptiness; the other sees the father owing him something instead of being owner of everything the Father has to offer.

“One returned seeking forgiveness and mercy based on grace, the other wanted deserved compensation based on works.”

With these words in mind, he threw out a challenge to all of the church leaders and missionaries who were attending the meeting asking them where they were in this story.

“Think of those who were being complained about and those who Jesus was addressing,” he challenged

“He was addressing the religious crowd, those who “get it”. He was addressing people like us.

“Are we lost to the Father’s heart? Do we truly have a heart for the Father? This is the only part of this parable with no one to search diligently or to seek until found. Who was to do that, the father or the older brother?

“Are we an older brother who feel we have, and are doing, enough already?

“All we deserve is the Father’s favour and commendation. Could He still be saying to us: there is a son, or a daughter. out there lost? There is a crowd out there that would love to listen if anyone will tell them?

“There are still millions at risk of eternal separation from the Father. Who will seek them? The father still longs for them; His heart is still their return, no matter what state they are in. He needs us the older brothers and sisters in His house to go after that which is still lost.”

Dr Bogunjoko closed this talk with a challenge from Dr David Livingstone who said: “If a commission from an earthly king is a privilege, how can a commission from the Heavenly King be a sacrifice?”

“Are we connected with the mission heart of God? Is the fire of the Father’s longing for a lost world burning cold in our hearts?” he asked.

“For more than 125 years, this fire has been burning in the hearts of men and women whom God has been calling and sending out through SIM.

“Is God calling you? Is God calling your church?

“Decide for yourself. Will you offer to seek the lost out of a heart of worship for a loving God?”

Podcasts of Dr Bogunjoko’s keynote talks and his Sunday sermon can be heard at this link