Have you ever made a mistake that everyone found out about, and suddenly you felt like an outcast? Maybe you got drunk at a party and did something you regretted. Maybe you cheated on your spouse and everyone found out. Maybe you got arrested for DUI and your mugshot was flashed on the evening news, or in the local paper. How do you bounce back from something like that? How should we, as the church, handle those people?
Last night at church we were discussing the woman at the well (John 4). She was an outcast for sure. She’d had five husbands and was living with a man to whom she wasn’t married. These days, we may not think as much of living with someone but back then, people probably treated her about like they would someone with leprosy. In today’s terms she’d be referred to as a skank, (chank, if she’s chubby *urban dictionary) a slut, or a whore. The sad part is, a good majority of the people who’d be calling her that, call themselves Christians. We tend to be disgusted by other people’s sins, but not Jesus.
You see, back then, Jews weren’t supposed to talk to Samaritans, but even at the expense of being judged by His peers, Jesus spoke to the woman with love and compassion. He told her about Living Water, and something that would fill the void that she kept trying to fill with men. She just wanted to be loved, and for the first time in her life, she was staring straight into the eyes of Love.
When we encounter people and they look into our eyes, what do they see? Do we look at them with love, the way Jesus did, or do we look down our noses in disgust? How will we get the lost saved if we don’t love those who don’t even love themselves? How do we change people’s opinions about the church from thinking Christians are a bunch of hypocrites? Stop judging and start loving that’s how! I’m not saying to accept sin or to water down the Gospel. I’m just saying that we need to love the way Jesus did. We need to accept people where they are, show some grace and simply love them. And when one of our own falls into sin, pick them up and help them get back to where they’re supposed to be! Don’t kick them when they’re down. Which is, I’m sad to say, what often happens.
Sometimes I can understand why people claim to be atheist, or are anti church. If we’re supposed to be examples of Christ (made in His image), if someone were to be watching how we lived, and see how we treated others, what kind of Christ would they see? How inviting do we make Him seem?
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:23-24 The Message