2004-08-19 - What is He Doing Here?
Heb 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; (NAS)
I was in a group of Christians, just chattering away when another person entered. The person was not immediately recognized by anyone there, so I guessed he was a visitor or not expected as one of the gathering. After a moment, he piped up into one of the smaller groups - friendly enough it seemed. I returned to listen to the conversation in my circle. After a short time, it became annoyingly obvious that this guest was making a nuisance of himself quite on purpose. Nothing terrible, but obviously not a believer either. What I heard next from behind me, from someone in my circle, chilled me to the bone. A private whisper, "What is he doing here?"
While this person was obviously upset at this fellow's behavior, they missed something critical. This individual had wandered into a Christian gathering - on purpose. It was not why he was here, but that he was here that mattered. Perhaps he was here to cause trouble. But then again, maybe we are partly at fault here. Christianity has it's own phrases, idioms and expressions that, without context, make no sense. Imagine hearing for the first time - washed in the blood. It could easily make a newcomer uncomfortable and confused. This fellow was obviously skeptical, but he came anyway. How we treat someone who may be reacting to a totally alien environment may have a good deal to do with how they feel about Christians and Christianity.
Paul refers to Christians as 'ambassadors for Christ' in 2 Cor 5:20. We are the earthly representatives of our King, Jesus Christ, and His realm. Someone once told me, "You are the best example of Jesus Christ to someone out there." The very thought of it stopped me in my tracks. My actions and reactions represent the Lord of Grace to those around me. So, if I meet this visitor's jabs with a laugh and a handshake, putting him at ease, perhaps Jesus is much better represented to him and those he speaks with afterward. If he persists for long, his mind was made up when he came in. My angry response will only confirm his suspicions. Either way, there will be ripples that fan out from that meeting.
1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (NAS)
When Jesus warned that anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is unfit for the Kingdom of God, He did not want us to forget what we had been saved from. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they, like we, were saved in spite of themselves. It was not because of who we are. We did not go looking for God. He came to find us. If you think you were not that bad, remember Jesus explained that the thought of a sin - the deliberate contemplation of sin - is as bad as the action itself. (Matt 5:28) It does not just apply to adultery. We are sinners by our nature and by choice. If we are honest, we mull over on our minds what we chose. But Jesus has taken those who repent (turn away from) and ask Him for His forgiveness and salvation and washed them. The freedom is almost too sweet to explain. But we should not forget where we were when Jesus reached out to us, or where we've stumbled along the way. It will help us when we meet those who would test us looking for a reaction to confirm their opinions of Christians.
Jesus may call me His Ambassador now. Now and then he peels back another layer of the onion when He knows I am ready to see the next layer of my heart He is cleansing. Then I think, if You saved me Jesus, You can reach anyone. I have no business being here. On my own, that would be true. But the Master - for whatever reason - chose me. It blows me away. When I think of what He took for me, it becomes a little easier to take a few barbs and laugh at it to make an opening for someone else to see the Jesus we are honored to represent.
Rom 12:18-21 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NAS)
Lord, Help me to keep in focus Your grace toward me, and eternity for those around me. Amen.