Lostness from an Italian Perspective
Recently, I spent some time in the emergency room. I was there to have my heart checked because I had been having irregular heart beating for a couple of weeks. It was about a 5-hour ordeal, but in the end, they were not concerned about me. Everything was still within the normal parameters so they couldn't do much for me. A month has passed since this visit, and praise be to God, I am feeling back to normal. While there, however, I was able to observe a crazy lady who came and put on quite a show for all of us in the waiting room of the Italian emergency center. Observing her reminded me of lostness. Typically, when we think of lostness, at least in the States, we think of people just like her, people on drugs, prostitutes, perverts, gangsters, aggressive, crazy, or angry people. Lostness is pretty evident in the States, generally speaking.
In Italy things are different. In secular post-catholic Italy, more than 99% of the people do not know the Biblical Gospel. Biblical churches are almost nonexistent. Less than 1% of the population is evangelical and it's been that way for centuries... People don't know Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible, and they aren't saved. But here's the thing - they don't look lost! Most people here in Italy, at least in the
northern part where we are, are well put together. They know how to dress very well. They're lovers, not fighters. They conduct themselves with a certain level of decency. Generally speaking, they are folks that you would never consider as being a lost people group, that is if you don't have a Biblical understanding of what lostness is.
While I was at the emergency room, this lady was talking to herself, shouting, wandering around all over the place, keeping all of us on the edge of our seats, and kind of scaring everybody. She may have been on drugs. She may have just been a bit crazy. Perhaps she was of an ill spirit. She wasn't your typical Italian. In any case, she was, without doubt, a textbook case of what we typically think of when it comes to lost people.
Places like Italy remind us of many important Biblical truths (when we do gospel ministry there), and one of them is lostness. People typically look just fine in Italy, but they're equally lost as the crazy person, as the drugged-up person, like the prostitute, or whoever comes to mind for you. Here's the point: Good-looking well-to-do folks are equally lost, despite how they behave or look. Just as the prodigal son's older brother, many people can be well put together on the outside, but on the inside, they are spiritually dead. Anyone who does not have Christ (1 John 5:12) and who has not been born of the Spirit of God (John 3), is perishing in their sins until they repent and believe (Luke 13:3) in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. - Luke 13:3
Be mindful of this as you live for Christ. Italy's spiritual situation today can help us understand better what true lostness actually is, as described in the Word of God. Lostness doesn't have anything to do with the outward appearance of a person. It has everything to do with the inward status of a person. Simply put, all who are not born again or regenerate, are still dead in their sins (Col. 2:13, Eph. 2:1), slaves to sin (John 8:34) and Satan (2 Tim. 2:26), enemies of God (Rom. 5:10, James 4:4), children of wrath (Eph. 2:3, John 3:36), and living for a god (or gods) of their own making (Gal. 4:8)... To be saved, one must be born again. Jesus made that very clear in John 3.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. - John 3:36
As you look around at the masses, be mindful that what all people need more than anything else are forgiveness and salvation. Be mindful that though they may imagine themselves to be well with God, if they don't know the Biblical Jesus as Lord and Savior, God is not well with them. His wrath is very real. He is holy and righteous and deals justly with sinners. It is our privilege and call to go to all people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They won't know of their true need and God's great mercy and grace unless we, filled with the Spirit, obey Jesus and go to them with the Gospel message. Evangelism is potentially the only thing we will not be able to do in heaven, apart from sin. Be about reaching the lost! Find joy in fishing for souls and never tire of the task. It is a high calling that all Christians have for all the days we live.
The saying is true, "He who sows, gathers." Keep on sowing!
Written by Jesse Schreck
Taken from PMc podcast episode 238