A man walks into a church looking for something he hasn’t had his entire life. He’s not real sure what it is exactly, but he’s been trying to find “it” for two years now. Life is crappy. His marriage died. His kids are living in Rhode Island with his ex-wife and his parents both died in a car accident 1 year ago. He’s broken. And now he’s gone against everything he was raised to believe and decided to take a chance on this guy named Jesus. Not sure what the expect, he avoids eye contact and sits in the back of the church theater. He feels he’s successfully avoided anybody who might talk to him. He just wants to observe and he’s more interested in how genuine the people are, than the service itself.
Two seats away a woman sits. She smells a hint of alcohol, which is something that she hasn’t smelled since she quit drinking 5 years ago. It’s been a long, tough road, but with the help and support of an AA group, her family and small group at church, she’s been sober for 5 years. She sends a glance his way and realizes that this man must have already been drinking this morning. “It’s only 9:45am and he’s already drinking…wow,” she thought to herself. Under the guise of going into the lobby to use the restroom she leaves the theater and goes into another door so that she doesn’t have to sit next to or smell the man’s stench.
The man sat alone. The music was enjoyable, the people seemed to believe what they sang and the sermon hit the nail right on the head. The Pastor said, “If you feel like the whole world has turned against you, then you’re in the best place to meet God.” It did feel like the whole world had turned against him, or at least his own little world had and he knew it couldn’t be a coincidence that the Pastor seemed to be speaking directly to him. In fact he was a little taken aback by the fact that the Pastor seemed to know him and his circumstances before they ever met.
Across the room, the woman sat quietly during the sermon and listened. Thinking, “I remember when it felt like my world turned against me” and “I’m so glad Jesus took the time to pursue me through my disobedience.” But she also felt her mind starting to wander and wonder. “I feel like this is the same sermon I heard 6 1/2 year’s ago when I started my journey toward sobriety. I wonder when he (the Pastor) is going to start teaching me something with depth.”
The service ended and the man had already decided he’d take another step. He would go talk to someone, anyone, the first person who looked like they could be talked to.
The two made their way down out of the theater and from across the way, the man spotted her. She didn’t see him coming, but he noticed she had been sitting next to him as the service started. At least she was a somewhat familiar face and she looked nice enough.
He tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me.”
She turned and saw the man. “Uh, yeah?” she responded. “I couldn’t help but notice that you were sitting next to me and I just wondered…” she interrupted him, “Well, not to be rude, but I moved because you smell like you came straight from a bar.” He was shocked and when she saw the look on his face, she was shocked as well. She thought, “I thought he was wondering why I moved seats.”
He turned. He walked out. He got in his car. And he vowed to never enter the building again, at least not while he still had all his problems.
The moral of the story:
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” – Acts 15:19
When someone enters the environment we’ve created for them to connect with Jesus Christ and they feel judged. They feel like they can’t begin a relationship with Jesus until they’re clean. Until they’ve removed every sin from their life. Let me ask you one question, “Is your judgement causing it to be difficult for the people walking in our doors to turn to God?”
Everyone needs compassion. A love that’s never-failing. Let mercy fall on me. Everyone needs forgiveness. The Kindness of a Savior. The hope of nations. My Savior, He can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save. He is mighty to save. Forever, author of Salvation. He rose and conquered the grave. Jesus conquered the grave.
There’s a difference between Accountability and Judgement.
Accountability can only happen between two parties who have agreed to a standard and agreed to help each other attempt to achieve that standard.
Judgement happens when one party has declared a standard for others and attempts to hold that person captive to that standard.
It is not our job to point out the sin in others. It’s our job to usher them into an environment where they can experience love, acceptance and the profound grace of Jesus Christ. Once that relationship begins, they will be convicted in God’s timing and moved to life-change by the power of the Holy Spirit. But that’s not our job. So, I’ll ask it again…
“Is your judgement causing it to be difficult for the people walking in our doors to turn to God?”