The problem isn't that we share space. The problem is that Christians expend too much energy concerning themselves in the moral affairs of non-believers and not enough energy on the hearts of non-believers or on church discipline.
Consider that the thesis statement of this post. I'm going to park on the first half and save church discipline for another day because, man, this is already heavy and I haven't even gotten started. Probably why I'm up at 1am penning this post. But when the
So, Christians condemn immoral unbelievers? Say it ain't so. I'm thinking I can get an "Amen" from just about every reader on that one, am I right? Pick any social issue. It doesn't matter which one. If you camp on the "other side" of the beliefs of the Christian church at large, I'd wager a guess that at some point a believer has cast judgment on you.
The thing is, that's not the Christian's job.
Consider the parable of the wheat and the tares (or weeds). In Matthew 13:30, the master says:
Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I'll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles and burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.Let the weeds be the non-believers and the wheat be the Jesus-followers. This is a pretty serious situation. In the end, at the harvest, there will be a judgment. The weeds will be plucked out and burned. The wheat will be stored in God's barn, eternally.
In the here and now, when Christians concern themselves with legislating morality we miss the target. Without Jesus, a world without terrorism, abortion, murder, hunger, abuse, rape would be moral but that's simply not good enough. In the words of Ed Stetzer from The Subversive Kingdom,
These are all good things, to be sure. But without Jesus, those good things are eternally insufficient. We don't want people to just behave morally. We want them to know Jesus. We want a real change of heart, change of life. We want them to come into the kingdom.
If all we do is fight cultural battles, we are doing very little to add people to the kingdom of God. Sure, there are going to be weeds, but God will take care of those in the end. For now - for us - we would do well to focus our energies, efforts, and prayer on converting the weeds of the world rather than plucking them out.How? How do we do this?
Well, folks, it's going to have to get a little uncomfortable.
Allow me to quickly spotlight just a few ministries that do some radical work in the lives of non-believers.
XXX Church: This ministry is committed to serving those struggling with the addiction of pornography. They show up at porn shows, strip clubs, and international locations, not with picket signs and megaphones to condemn, but with Bibles to show grace and love because they care. They provide an online recovery program, accountability, and support for men, women, teens, and those in the porn industry who wish to break free. The 'Jesus Loves Porn Stars' (JLPS) Bible debuted in June of 2006 at the Erotica L.A. convention in Los Angeles. They gave out over 3,000 of these Bibles for free in less than 24 hours.
The Dream Center: From their website: Founded in 1994, The Dream Center is a volunteer driven organization that finds and fills the needs of over 50,000 individuals and families each month. We do this through mobile hunger relief and medical programs, residential rehabilitation programs for teens and adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional housing for homeless families, foster care intervention programs, job skills training, life skills counseling, basic education, Bible studies and more. We work to meet people where they are at, to bring them hope and a way off the streets.
I just recently read about this ministry in Lysa TerKerst's book Unglued. Go to their Rescue Project website and look around at what they do to meet the physical needs of the homeless, hungry, enslaved, abused, neglected, addicted. It's incredible. Over 100 Dream Centers have opened up since the inception of the original location in Los Angeles. Missionaries from all over the world come to train and take with them the skills they learn from just a brief amount of time at this facility.
Hand of Hope: From their website: Hand of Hope is the missions arm of Joyce Meyer Ministries. Our goal is to help as many hurting people as we possibly can, to alleviate human suffering and to help Christians grow in their faith. Through vital outreaches, practical humanitarian aid and media broadcasting worldwide, we’re sharing the love of Christ to millions around the world.
"Time and again I am impacted not only by the great needs of people worldwide but also by the amazing opportunity God has given us to do something about it.” -David L. Meyer, CEO of Hand of Hope
Whether it’s through a feeding program, rescuing women from human trafficking, translating Joyce’s books or one of the many other outreaches we’re able to be part of, our goal is clear: to show people that we truly care about them as people and that they are not forgotten. We believe if we do that long enough, they will eventually want to know what’s different about us and what’s compelling us to do this for them. And that’s when we get to introduce them to our Savior—Jesus Christ. (emphasis mine)
I am honored to know personally one of the amazing women who has gone on many of these international mission trips, my Aunt Lydia. She leaves and comes home on fire for the Lord, ready to go again, with a sense of obvious urgency to reach lost souls.
This is what the kingdom of God looks like. Here. Right now. This is Christianity. Our time on earth is but a breath of air, temporary, fleeting, and instead of simply passing the time to get to the eternal, we ought to be really concerned about our business here and now. There is work to be done. Just like in the parable of the talents, from the time the resources are passed out to the time they are accounted for at the end, we must decide whether to bury what we've been entrusted with or to make the most of it. This is stewardship.
Again, from The Subversive Kingdom, Ed Stetzer asks:
How can I live out what God has for me with what God has given me?This is our challenge, as Christians, today and until He comes. How can we represent Jesus? How can I live out God's will for my life? What does that look like? What are some tangible, real ways I can show Christ's love for others?
These are not rhetorical questions. What does it look like? For some it's going overseas to the remotest parts of the world and administering medical aid. For others it's handing out Bibles at porn conventions. For some it's offering a drug-addicted prostitute on the streets of Los Angeles a hot meal and a chance to escape her circumstances.
You see, it's a lot easier to fight with someone on Facebook about what the Bible says than to go out and do what Jesus did.
For me, part of my mission is to disciple my family and that is a noble, consuming job. Sam and I have five eternal souls to devote ourselves to. That's not small potatoes. But there is more outside of this family. There is a world of lost and dying souls. And right now, I'm feeling the urgency.
I'm going to reiterate my personal 2013 scripture passage that I referenced in the first Put On Love post:
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17
I want to be the love of Christ.