“No one knows what we’re for, only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down those signs and crossed over the lines and loved like you did?”
– Casting Crowns “Jesus Friend of Sinners”
We’ve listened to the Casting Crowns’ “Jesus Friend of Sinners” a lot in the last couple of weeks. I think it’s one of the best contemporary Christian songs released in the last few years.
The lyrics are powerful, stinging and really make me take a look at myself and ask, “Am I really giving the world the image of the real Jesus” or are they seeing the version of Jesus I’ve interpreted.
When I wasn’t in church and struggling with my salvation, I wouldn’t have been receptive to someone shoving a tract in my face and telling me I was heathen headed for the pit fires of Hell. I knew things I was doing were wrong. I didn’t need a piece of paper from a stranger telling me that.
As the body of Christ, the church needs to be a refuge for the outcasts. We were all outcasts at one time before God came and found us. God, I pray our hearts are led by mercy. Help us see people the way you do. Help us reach out in love, not prejudice and condemnation.
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more. Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:10-12
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we have to condone sin or a lifestyle we know is Biblically immoral, but it also doesn’t mean we should confront someone with angry words, telling them they need to get right with God. We can correct someone with love and not condone their behavior. We need to stop trying to do the job of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to show people that there is something better. That their sin doesn’t have to keep them bound. They can find freedom in Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we are called to live our lives in a way that glorifies God. People around us should know that we’re different. Not the weird, fake spiritual different, but the way we conduct ourselves lets people see that God lives in us. So often, we want people to know that we don’t curse or drink because it gives us some sort of false superiority. You can choose not to participate in profane language and crude remarks without drawing attention to yourself and trying to shame everyone else.
Once people know we are real, they will be more receptive to hearing what we have to say. One question about God or the Bible may lead to more questions, maybe an invitation to church. Sharing your personal experience with God will always be more effective than holding a picket sign or sharing the latest “Christian” meme on Facebook.
So many of us say “Amen” when we hear a verse denouncing a certain sin, but we turn a deaf ear to a verse telling us to correct a sinner in humility and love.
Some people are so scared of giving their lives to God that they look for any excuse to say, “Well, that’s what I thought, just another hypocrite. They’re no different than me. Why go to church, I can keep doing what I want and not get judged for it.”
Pastor Steve said something that really stuck with me a couple of weeks ago: “If you are the only Bible someone knows, what are they reading.”
I don’t know how many of you used to read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and give yourself a “do-over” if you didn’t like the ending. I’d keep my finger in the place where I had to choose which bridge to cross, then make sure I didn’t run into a troll or something before I proceeded.
Likewise, we can do the same thing with our own life stories. If people can’t read our lives as a Bible that glorifies God, the good news is we can change that! Study the Word, read how Jesus befriended sinners before you decide to pick up that sign and join the picket line. You are the one who decides what your story is going to be. Let’s open our eyes and see the person and not just the sin.