This morning I awoke thinking about some situations going on in my life and what should be the appropriate Christlike response to these situations. One involves people who although they were exposed to God and the church chose to reject everything about Him for whatever reason and the other claims to know God, professes Christ, reads the Bible but yet lives a life proving daily that they really don’t follow Christ’s teachings. I thought about each situation and how Jesus would have handled them.
The first group we’ll call those who were offered Christ but rejected Him. These people want nothing at all to do with God, His ways, His people, etc. They have outright rejected God and refused anything to do with him. I think this one is pretty simple. We just keep living our life being an example and hoping and praying that they will one day change their mind. We’ve offered them Christ and they refused Him. As I looked through the Scriptures to see what Jesus did, I see that he would talk with someone, drop his bomb into their life and then wait. Either they accepted and followed or they didn’t. NEVER do I see Jesus chasing after any of them. He doesn’t doggedly pursue them hoping to change their minds. He said what he had to say and they either accepted or they did not.
The best example of this one i can think of is the “rich young ruler”. He came and asked Jesus what he had to do and Jesus told him and he went away. He is never mentioned again. We have no idea what choice he made. Did he repent and follow or did he walk away? We will never know. Yes, some scholars believe he is another character mentioned later in the Bible and they believe he came back. But in all honesty, we do not know. All we know is Jesus never mentioned him again and there is no evidence Jesus went after him until he changed.
Although my group of people openly rejected Christ I think it is safe to say if I did my part and made the offer and they refused then my part here is done and chasing after them would serve no useful purpose. So I am left with the decision where Scripture talks about the unbelieving husband…if he leaves let him go. So I will let them go. I will not seek a relationship with them. It is not that I want to ostracize them. It is that there is no fellowship between darkness and light. If they wish to come towards the light I will welcome them and share with them and perhaps they can change. But for now, It seems that Jesus would have let them walk away and not pursued them.
Then we have my second group. These are the much more difficult for me as they claim to be “brothers”. They profess Christ, they attend church, they read their Bible. But my problem is, there is no evidence that they actually LIVE this life they claim to profess. These people are ones who seem to want SIN with a SIDE of Christ. You see my problem with these people is this…they hate YOUR sin, they will be quick to criticize you and me for every little thing we do wrong but when anyone shines a light on THEIR sin…look out…you just unleashed a demon. They will throw that Christ card on the table faster than you can say, Christ! They want, they expect, they DEMAND that ALL their sins no matter how grievous no matter how planned, plotted, etc. be swept under the rug of GRACE and that you never mention it again. One even says on a regular basis…”if David can be forgiven for murder, then I can be forgiven for anything.” But they fail to see that David was only forgiven AFTER he repented. I suspect if David had stood up to Nathan and argued with him, made excuses for his behavior and refused to repent then he would NOT have been forgiven and his fate would have been far different. And I can say this with a huge degree of confidence because if you read about King Saul whom David replaced that is exactly what happened to him. Saul sinned by not doing what God ordered him to do. When he was approached by his “Nathan”, Samuel, instead of repenting he made excuses, he blamed others and he dodged the question. He was asked THREE times and each time he refused to repent. Finally, Samuel was told by God to stop praying for him. This blew me away the first time I read that. God said he turned His back on Saul and he instructed Samuel to do so as well. To add even more to this story then Saul was tormented by demons SENT FROM GOD. Yes, read that again…it says that God sent demons to torment Saul the rest of his life…not demons from satan but directly from God and Saul lived out the rest of his life in torment.
If I look at Jesus and how he responded to these types of people the best thing I can find is the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Both groups claimed to know God and to follow Him and both of these groups committed grievous sins continually and when presented with their sins by Jesus himself, they REFUSED him, ACCUSED him and REJECTED him. So how did Jesus handle these people? He showed them their sins and then walked away. He didn’t get into an argument with them trying to prove He was right and they were wrong. He simply called them what they were, showed them their error and left. He never pursued these people. He dropped His bomb them and left them in their own sin.
Then I looked at Jesus last words on the cross. When He was dying for our sins and He said, “Father forgive them”. I wondered…who is THEM in this sentence? Many teach that it meant everyone and anyone but I wonder…did Jesus really mean forgive them ALL? I have to think that there were people who had to carry out the task of torturing Christ by crucifying him and it was their JOB. Not a job I would think anyone would want but for whatever reason, they drew the short straw in life and they had the task of killing Jesus. They were just obeying orders. Perhaps Jesus didn’t want them to suffer for their actions. Perhaps He recognized that they were being obedient to their authorities and He was asking God not to punish them for it. Then there were the people standing around cheering on the crucifixion because that’s what they did. These people might not even have known who was being crucified that day they just came out to support the execution of “prisoners” because that was the law. Surely anyone being crucified was a criminal and they are getting their just punishment. I wonder if many of them even knew one thing about this Jesus being crucified that day. Perhaps Jesus was saying forgive those people here that have no clue that I’m innocent.
But…there were the others in the crowd. If you read the scriptures you can see several times how the Pharisees stirred up a crowd by shouting things and then getting others involved to make a huge deal out of their issue. Those people knew exactly what they were doing. Those people had studied the scriptures and they knew a Messiah was coming and what to look for and yet…when He was presented to them instead of embracing him and celebrating they REJECTED Him and killed him. These people are more like my Sin with a Side of Christ group because these people know what God expects but they are stuck in their sin doing things their way and they REFUSE to REPENT when given the chance. I’m not sure when Jesus said father forgive them that he meant this group at all. Maybe He did. Maybe He is much more forgiving than I think, but He also says that God will forgive us as we forgive others and that group NEVER forgave others. They crucified others, they stoned others, they showed no forgiveness to anyone. I have to believe if God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow that He didn’t change when Jesus died. Yes, He offered us a way out a way to repent of our sins and to be forgiven but He did NOT give us a trump card to play whenever we want to sin and enjoy that sin and keep living in that sin and just scream GRACE any time we are confronted with our sin.
I think Timothy makes it very clear that some people have lived in their sin so long and their conscience has been seared to the point that they are UNABLE to be changed. Their heart is so dark, so blackened from all that they have done and continue to do that they do not FEEL the guilt or weight of their sin and they are so deceived and so entrenched in their sins that nothing short of an encounter with Jesus himself will ever change them. Sadly, not all will be saved. All we can do for this group is hope and pray that God brings them to their knees because only when they reach the end of their self righteousness will they ever be saved. And to this group, Jesus made it very clear. He said show them their offense. He then said take 2 – 3 witnesses and then he said tell it to the church and lastly if those three steps did not help your brother out of his sin then you are to treat them as a pagan or a tax collector. In another scripture it tells us with that kind of person “do not even eat”. This to me says walk away. Leave them to their sin and let God be their judge. No amount of effort will ever change them.
These people want to keep their sin because they derive pleasure from it…they just want Christ on the side just in case they get caught.
So then I wondered about the whole planting seeds and reaping thing. So many want to save souls and that is a great goal but I see far too many Christians who think it is their sole purpose to convert THAT person whomever THAT person is today. They will plant a seed, drown it with water and beat their heads against this person’s beliefs or lack of until they have the satisfaction of winning that person to Christ. I think this is extremely harmful behavior. It is not our place to be that person for everyone we encounter. We are to plant seeds. That’s it. Drop the seed…let God water it. Sometimes God may bring someone to you that someone else planted. In that case WATER it. Don’t DROWN IT. Just a little water to help it grow then let it go. Sometimes the harvest is ripe and you meet that person that someone else planted and others watered and they are ripe for the harvest. Harvest them. Then you have some who are already harvested and they need to be discipled…DISCIPLE THEM. Only once in my christian life have I ever planted, watered, harvested and discipled the same person through every step. I probably wasn’t the only one doing these things…I don’t take credit for it but I was there to witness the entire process and it was a great feeling. But more often I plant seeds and I never know if those seeds fell on good soil or rocky ground. I will never know. Sometimes I water a seed and I don’t know if that seed grew or got choked out by the weeds. Sometimes I harvest a seed. For me, harvesting is not my area. It rarely happens. In fact, only once did I ever witness a harvest. Disciplining at times I get to do this role for brief periods of time. The point is…do what job you are there to do and let it go. Pray for them yes but don’t stalk them into Christ. That’s just creepy! Don’t beat them until they surrender. None of those tactics makes Christians look good.
Some of you are harvesters and you feel the satisfaction of bringing people to Christ daily. What a wonderful position to have. But some of you are just seed planters and you never see the harvest. I think the planters and waterers are far more important than the harvesters. The harvesters would have nothing to harvest if you hadn’t done your job first. The harvesters get the satisfaction of knowing they brought someone to Christ, you do your job dutifully daily and never know if you ever make a difference. Keep sowing seeds, keep watering. Those jobs are far more important than the harvesting. Don’t get me wrong…we must harvest but there will NEVER be a harvest to harvest if the sowers and waterers fail to do their jobs first. They are dependent upon the planting.
So plant, water, harvest but most of all, be sure you have Christ first not on the side. Any planting, watering, harvesting or discipling will be for naught if you do not have first your own self in obedience to God and Christ and put your own sin on the alter forsaking it and not excusing it. Hypocritical christians are more damaging to christianity than non belivers.