Leave Them Alone

I wish I could say this posting was entirely my idea, but it is the accumulation of not only my thoughts, but other sermons, messages, discussions, and ideas expressed by others.

I hesitate to say this, but Christians have become more judgmental than almost any other group you can think of.  If folks don’t dress the way we do, talk the way we do, go to church the way we do, think the way we do, (fill in the blank here), we place them on the ‘outsiders’ list.

This condemning spirit reaches into every corner of human society, and human behavior.  It is so endemic and so firmly entrenched, as to make it almost invisible.  We don’t even know we are doing it, most of the time.

If we are not careful we have become like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time.  They appeared right, they followed the ‘rules’ as they saw it, they talked the right talk, but they were wrong.

Not to be too authoritative here, or to overextend my reach — but, let me simply say, “Who made you judge?”  And not only judge, but jury and executioner, too?  Who gave you such superior wisdom as to be able to tell what is in a person’s heart and soul?  Who gave you the ‘measuring stick’ with which to measure everyone else’s life and behavior?

Now, granted – this sounds a little strong.  A little tough.  A little bold.  But, let me remind you a just a few things —

When Jesus dealt with people, he was not in a condemning frame of mind.  His mission, as explained in John 3:17, was not to condemn, but to save.  It’s hard to save people if you first want to condemn them.

If anyone had a right to condemn and judge it was Jesus.  But, the only people He condemned and had issues with, were the ones who were the religious leaders of that time.  In other words, the ones that should have known better.

Now on to specifics….

We often have problems with who God chooses to use.  We have the mistaken belief that if they don’t behave according to our scale of acceptance, then they certainly are not qualified to be used of God.  Now, I don’t want to burst your bubble or cause you to have nightmares, but hold onto your hat — God will use whoever He chooses to use, whether we think they are qualified or not.  Let me give you a personal example that happened to me when I was 17-18 years old.  I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating as it may help someone.

I was in Long Beach California.  I was in Uncle Sam’s Navy there serving aboard ship.  I was as far away from God as anyone could imagine.  I had no intention of having any relationship with God, although I was raised in the church and had some early experiences with God.

Some sailors had rented some rooms in Long Beach and we would gather there to drink, get drunk, and listen to music.  A girl who had run away from home found herself rooming with these guys.  I had the chance to talk to her one day away from the crowd, and I remember telling her, that she didn’t need to live this way.  That she should go back home, and give it another try.  That there were better things for her than living like this.  She looked at me with a funny look on her face and said something I’ve never forgotten, “Wow, I feel like God is talking directly to me through you.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but after she walked away I remember sitting on the bus stop bench and crying, because I knew I was so far away from God.

It would make a good story to tell you I turned my life around at that time, but that isn’t how it went down.  It would be many more months following before I finally made a lasting commitment to God.  What is the significance of this story, and what does it have to do with the topic?

Do not be fooled my friend – God can use whoever He wants to, to do His purpose.  The gifts God had given me were in operation even before I gave my heart and life to the Lord.  Now, I recognize that some of you do not believe this is possible because how can an unsaved person be of any help to anyone else?  But, may I remind you there are some Biblical examples of this very thing.

If we cannot be helpful to folks, and have nothing positive to say to them, then I say, “Leave them alone.”  You do not know what God is doing, and trying to do, in their lives.  The disciples wanted to help Jesus and thought they were doing the right thing by turning away children who wanted to see, and be near, Jesus.  But, what they needed to do was to “Leave them alone.”

Fringe People

Before I close out this posting let me tell you of some people that I call the ‘Fringe People’.  This is not to make fun of them, but to describe their condition and place.  They are on the fringe when it comes to having a solid relationship with God.  They generally do not attend church, or attend regularly.  They have a distrust of Christians, especially those who are ‘holier than thou’ types.  They have strong feelings against most forms of organized religion.  But, even with all this, they are searching for God, and God is search for them.  In many cases, these folks can only be reached by those folks who, although they live a life-style that is contrary to our way of thinking, are the only ones who can actually have a meaningful relationship with those who are on the ‘outer fringes’.  In other words, these folks cannot be reached by the preacher, by the televangelist, by passing out tracts, or by door-to-door witnessing.  They can only be reached by folks who are more closely connected to their life-style.  I know, this sounds very controversial, doesn’t it?  But, let’s take a well-known example from the Bible to illustrate what I’m talking about.

When Jesus met the woman at the well, there were certain conditions necessary for Jesus to do a work in that area.  One, these people would not just come out to hear Jesus because He was in town.  They were Samaritan, and he was a Jew.  They did not have dealings with each other, and mostly avoided contact with each other.  He needed a ‘go-between’ that would act as a liaison.  This liaison was the woman.  Now, this woman was not an outstanding citizen, and not qualified to be a spokesperson for the Lord.  But, that is according to our way of thinking.  Jesus thought otherwise.  But, for this to work, He had to deal with her in a private conversation.  So, the disciples went off to buy lunch, creating the opportunity Jesus needed.  We know the rest of the story, and how she brought out the entire town to hear Jesus.  The woman at the well was one of these ‘fringe’ people I’ve been talking about.  They can reach people you and I cannot.  If we cannot help them then we need to learn to “Leave Them Alone”, and let God do His work, as only He can do.

Now, in closing out this posting, let me be clear on a couple of points.  One, God does not want people living out on the fringe.  He wants them close.  But, they may never get close if they encounter too many condemning Christians, who have nothing but condemnation to give out.  Two, God is working in ways we cannot even imagine.  He is working in people’s lives at every level of society, at every level of income, at every level of religious training or background, at every level of faith.  Three, many folks know more about religious things than you might imagine.  In fact, many a hardened sinner knows quite a bit about the Bible and religious matters.  Even the woman at the well was well-versed in a number of religious matters.  She knew about the Messiah and she knew the various places of worship.

One Response to “Leave Them Alone”

  1. beamcguire@gmail.com Says:

    Wow! This was an AWESOME blog!! Wish this could be read from every pulpit in America. Loved it and every word was the spoken truth! Thank you for telling it like it is. There are so many churches today that need this message! I loved the story about the young lady you ministered to. I didn’t recall ever hearing that story. Blessings to you my brother…….

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