Chapel talk urges us to be the missing link to God
parable (noun) — a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle or moral lesson
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
There are 40 parables in the Bible, according to “Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey,” by New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg. More than half (28) are in the Gospel of Luke, which contains 15 not found anywhere else.
The stories that Dustin Tappan told Monday morning in Chapel at Grand Canyon University were like parables. The lead Next Generation pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria referenced two of his own experiences that illustrated truths and principles and certainly taught a lesson.
His theme was losing something you treasure and then finding it, as Jesus taught in one of the most unusual chapters in the Bible, Luke 15. Tappan used the three parables that make up the entirety of that chapter — the lost sheep, the lost coin and the father embracing his prodigal son — to pound home his point:
“Somewhere or another, we are going to spend a lot of our life and a lot of our energy searching, but are we searching for what’s valuable to God?”
He first told the story of how he got $6,000 in cash for selling his car and put the money in a small box, only to later discover that the box was gone.
Frantic, Tappan asked everyone in the family if they had seen it, and when his 2½-year-old son seemed to indicate that he might have gotten his hands on it (but like most toddlers, wasn’t clear about it), the panic intensified. After hours of searching inside and outside the house, he found it — in the shoe where his son had put it.
If only we put the same effort, Tappan said, into finding God and helping Him reach those who are lost. He backed up his point with 2 Corinthians 5:18-20: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
“We are God’s search party,” Tappan said. “It’s our job to point people to Jesus — not to save them, but to point people to Jesus. How? Through our life, through our actions, through our example, through our words. God cares about the missing; so should we.”
That led to Tappan’s second story, about one morning when he woke up and felt as if it had been too long since he had reached someone spiritually. Sure enough, when he got to the gym there was a guy talking loudly on his cell phone in the locker room about how he was getting a master’s degree in New Testament studies — and was an atheist.
“Immediately, I began thinking, I know that I asked God for an opportunity, I just was hoping it would be on the weekend — or later. I didn’t think it was, like, now.”
Tappan got his cell number and texted him a few days later to invite him to coffee — and found out that the man had been estranged from his family and excommunicated from his church for years because he had announced that he was gay.
The man suggested on his own that he come to a service at Tappan’s church, and afterward he sent Tappan this text message: “For the first time in my life, I think I sensed God.” A month later, he told Tappan he was ready to give his life to Jesus.
“Have you lost sight of what is valuable to Jesus? I know I have,” Tappan said. “And I need to be constantly reminded that the love of the father (of the prodigal son), the sheep and the coin and the son’s story is a picture of this loving relationship that God has with us and those that are missing.”
We need to approach the missing, Tappan emphasized, even if the missing we see in our lives seem as if they could never know God.
“You need to know this: No matter how much you care about people or I care about people, God loves the missing more than we do,” he said.
● For a replay of Tappan’s talk, click here.
● Next week’s Chapel speaker: Ryan Guard, Mission Community Church
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.