I am writing this post on a Sunday night, after a day of ministry and travel. As with most such nights, I have fallen into my recliner, and allowed my mind to go back over the last week. Usually, there is no rhyme or reason to the thought process, I am simply trying to unwind from the past week of decision making that goes with my ministry.
As I sit listening to the mindless chatter of the television set I realize that I’m not paying attention to anything going on. Even when watching the news I have to ask my wife what was said in a certain story, although I was staring straight at the television.
Sitting here tonight, my thoughts have centered on people who are not in relationship with God. These are people who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or people who have broken fellowship with Him.
When most people think about the unsaved, their minds go to the drunk in the tavern or in the gutter, the crack addict, the prostitute or the profane. They think about that person in their past who seemed to have no thought toward spiritual matters, but there is another type of unsaved person that we may not even think consider.
It is quite possible they sit next to you in church or sing in the choir. They may be the musicians on the stage or even serving in ministry positions. Are you shocked by that? They have steady jobs, families and all of the appearances of having their life together. College-education, suit-wearing professionals or blue collar workers who seem to slave their life away in a factory, restaurant or even retail sales. Sometimes they are even pillars in the community, often asked to give the invocation or benediction at civic events.
Yes, there seems to be a ready acceptance of the first class of sinners, but this other type? Well, you may think I’ve just gone overboard and misjudged them. Yes, you are entitled to disagree with me but let me give you something to think about.
The sad fact is that people often live secret lives. We are all shocked when there is a sudden “fall from grace” among these folks. When they are caught up in scandal, we feign shock and ask, “can you believe that?” “I would have never thought that of him or her.” When someone in a position like mine is forced to make hard decisions, we are often misjudged as being unloving or too hard…but in reality, there are always more facts to a decision than what are made public. The age and culture we live in forces us to remain silent, and integrity drives us to private prayer instead of public defense.
Also, think about the fruit of that sinner..yes, inside or outside of the church building. One type abuses drugs or their own bodies with lewd and lascivious behavior, and the church world points at them as examples of those we must reach. But the other type may not demonstrate any of those behavioral traits, but, when their actions belie their testimony you can’t help but understand what Jesus meant when He said (Matthew 7:15-20) that you can “recognize the fruit.” We recognize the fruit of bitterness, gossip, unforgiveness and character assassination, just like we recognize the fruit of love, joy, peace, and mercy.
I have come to the sad realization that people will die and go to hell in the shadow of the steeple…some outside the church building and some who sit in it on a regular basis. Now, please hear me when I say I am not trying to place condemnation on anyone, as the Scripture plainly states there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. (cf. Romans 8:1) But rather I am trying to convey the truth that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and repentance and confession brings us into fellowship with Him. (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:18-19)
The Heart of God yearns for broken fellowship to be restored. Broken fellowship with Him and broken fellowship between His children. None of us are always right, we all possess the ability to make mistakes and to fail, just as we all possess the ability to turn to God and to each other.
Revelation 3:20 is a picture of Christ knocking at a door. Reading it in the proper context, we understand that it is the door of the church He is knocking on. When we open that door, He will come in and fellowship with us…and our fellowship with Him will create fellowship with one another.
His Heart is is full of love, acceptance and forgiveness, it is full of mercy and understanding. Tonight, I pray for everyone who reads this blog post. I pray that these thoughts will somehow cause you to seek the fulfill His heart and not just our own.
May God’s Peace be upon you
Deus est pax vobis.
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