I find it unusual that we can forget how being around the lost feels like. We can get huddled up in our believer circles and forget the depths of death surrounding us. We pack into churches and preach sermons about going out and being the hands and feet of Jesus, but for some reason we still sit all day in churches. We continue to do more activities with just believers. We're comfortable with the spiritual Facebook posts, Instagram pictures of skies proclaiming the beauty of God's creation, but we'll softly walk on egg shells around lost people all day and never utter a word.
I remember I asked myself a question that has changed my ministry approach. I was reading in Mark 2 when Jesus eats with the sinners. And I wasn't just curious as to why Jesus was eating with them. I was curious about why the sinners were okay with Him at the table. They sat there all night and endured the God in the flesh who could judge them and damn them to Hell right? Hmmm...that's not how the story plays out does it? Here's where I'm going.
Jesus had an awareness around sinners that I think and WISH and PLEAD that all Christians would try to adopt. Let me set it up like this. Imagine this.
You're trying to watch television. And someone comes up to you and starts talking to you. Now you're trying to watch your favorite TV show so this person talking to you is annoying. They're behavior is not approving to you. And rightfully so, you're trying to watch your favorite TV show. So you're trying to listen to the your show but this person keeps nagging. Nothing they have to say matters because the best part of the show is about to happen!! They finally catch the bad guy or they bust the cheater or the Bachelor cuts somebody you wasn't expecting or one of the housewives find out the other one is talking about her behind her back, whatever you're into----but this person is still trying to talk to you! So you press the pause button on your very American DVR, and you turn to the person. "Gah! Do you not know how to act!? Geez? I'm watching my TV show. What do you want?"
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm dying."
You feel the shift? Did you feel the adjustment that happened in your heart? The minute you heard that person's cry, your concern shifted. It was no longer about their unacceptable behavior, but more about what was happening to that person internally.
That was an extreme example, but keep flowing with me. So why did that happen? Because all it takes is listening. The more I listen to the lost the more I hear their bluff. They talk a big game about their lives but the more I listen to them and watch them act I see it's a cry from their very grave screaming, "I want rescuing! I need rescuing! Help! Help!"
But the church is too busy condemning. Calling people to a standard of Jesus without.....well...... first getting them to Jesus.
I think about how Jesus walked the Earth and how His bride is choosing to walk. I imagine us walking hand in hand with Jesus and we're pointing out, "Hey, look at them Jesus. They're sinning. They're gay. We should call that out. We should protest. Jesus, look at them. They're very vulgar when they speak. Jesus look at them, they don't know how to act. Do they know you're in their presence?" And Jesus is whispering to us, "Go meet them. Go eat with them. I'm here for them...and you should be to."
Clarity of the muffled cries happens when we listen and realize that their external is a cry for their internal redemption. We need to stop thinking that people should be like Jesus without knowing Jesus. Christianity is not a type of living, but a transformative process that happens when someone begins to seek to know the love of a living and holy king. GET PEOPLE TO JESUS FIRST.
Hear the muffled cries? They're cries for help. People act like the God they know or don't know. They need to know the Savior you profess to know. Go eat with them....Jesus came for them. You go for them too.