Commenting on someone’s faith, no I would rather not do it. This becomes the inevitable conclusion of trying to minister in categories and ministering in categories is the inevitable conclusion focusing on sheep and goats. This is why election discussion are nor truly helpful from a pastoral perspective. We can only approach people as potential followers or potential followers. This is why my last blog about the learners is really more philosophical than practical. It is good to know for own sanity but it shouldn’t set policy. We can understand that some fail to launch but apart from trying to help all we can do is give it to God. We can’t really minister as such without creating different levels of believers.
This is too easy to do. It is easy to look at someone’s life and declare they either look like me or they don’t. This is hard because I know that we are instructed to look at the fruit. But what conclusions are we allowed to come to? Am I as a Christian allowed to look at a fellow believer and say that they are not on the path or that they are?
Whenever I hear this type of speak I am reminded about Romans 14:4
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Here is the current problem in the church, this “hey man don’t judge me” mantra has infiltrated the church. But the verse is for the judges not to judge, not for the judged to not repent. Those in need of repentance must repent and be made whole. But the speck finders also need an inspection.
The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts of sin.
8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Their ultimate problem is belief in him and the Holy Spirit will bring this conviction albeit perhaps in response to preaching the Gospel. They will be convicted of righteousness in that their own fails in comparison to Christ and he is vindicated as the standard because he was welcomed by the Father. Finally the ruler of this world that they are still under is judged so they have nothing to which to hold onto or stand on.
So God does the judging not I. This also makes me think of the prodigal’s son parable.
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. 22 But the father said to his servants,‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
I don’t want to be the older brother in the parable, it is too easy to do. It is too easy for the church to be the older brother. When it comes to someone else’s walk. There are two brothers with two sins here. The younger flaunts it and the older with pride hides it. But they both are in danger of destroying their relationship with the Father if they do not return.
The problem is the younger recognizes his faults and the older does not. Only God can come along and clearly say where the person is at on their journey to, from, back or away from him. I think as a real brother would have chased after the younger as Jesus explains that a good shepherd does. He leaves the 99 in search of the one. What good does it do for some of the 99 still comfortable in the pin to comment about how much of a sinner number 100 is? But in order for the shepherd or good brother to chases the wayward soul down, he must have words about the need to return.
This is the hard part we need to encourage our brothers to return, not write them off as sinners without hope. Brothers come home, but does our home welcome and do our hearts welcome?
We must never communicate the world’s sin problem in a way that is more than a mirror to show them their need for a savior. It is never to discourage them away from a relationship with God. They are prisoners who can’t see the bars. The message is always to return. So when your brother is in need say “Brother please, come let us return unto the Lord.”
Brothers are there for each other even when they are different and on different paths. Just like Jake and Elwood Blues, we are on a mission from God, let’s stay the course.