Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Church Has No Business Judging Unbelievers

1 Corinthians 5:12

"For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

Yesterday I ran into a situation that broke my heart. As I am going back to school, I have picked up a job working part time at Radio Shack here in Hillsboro. I see lot's of people throughout the day and rarely (to be honest) do I give much serious thought to the condition of their souls. But I met someone yesterday that I believe God used to shake me up in that regard.

A young woman came into the store to take care of some business and as she was paying for the item she purchased she handed me a large sum of $1 bills. She commented that she "gets a lot of those where she works." Thinking little of the comment I casually said "Oh, are you a waitress?" Her response caught me off guard. She said that "you could call it something like that."

Long story short, she was a stripper at a bar in a nearby town. She immediately asked me if I was going to judge her for what she did. About that time I seemed to have a lot of things running through my mind. How do you respond to that?

I told her that I myself am a Christian, and I do disagree with such things, however I didn't judge her as a person. She seemed shocked. I think that above all she expected a "Christian" to pronounce judgement on her. I told her that I too am a sinner, as we all are. I intended to go into sharing the gospel with her, however, about that time a flood of customers came through the door and it didn't seem like I could do that right then, perhaps I should have regardless.

She thanked me for not judging her. She told me that she knew what she was doing was wrong, but it paid for school and her kids. By this time though I could tell she was convicted. She said "I do believe in God and all that, I know He'll forgive me."

I thanked her for coming in, but I was screaming on the inside "don't leave, I need to tell you about Jesus Christ", but I had customers asking me questions. She left the store and I helped the other customers.

After the store cleared out, I was very upset. I prayed to God that He would bring her the gospel and grant her faith and repentance in Christ. I was just so struck by the fact that all she expected from me as a Christian was to pour out judgement on her, condemn her as a sinner and write her off. But the truth is, I was heartbroken for her. She was so lost in her sin. Worse still, she held out hope that God would simply forgive her because she believed He was real.

The church is often times guilty of two extremes. One extreme was that which she expected from me, to react in a condemning fashion and call her a wretched sinner. So many churches are caught up in being self righteous that they have no love or compassion for people such as this girl. They would rather condemn her, judge her as if they were God, and send her away.

The second extreme that the church tends to be guilty of is looking past her sins and simply accepting her because she "believes in God" yet shows no sign of repentance. These kinds of churches equally condemn people to Hell by their lack of concern for genuine righteousness through genuine faith in Christ.

The truth is, the church needs to be busy not judging "outsiders" or unbelievers, and yet not busy overlooking their need for genuine repentance either. The church must be able to look a lost person in the eye and tell them, "I don't judge you. I'm no better than you. I myself am a wretched sinner. However I want to warn you, because I care about you, that you are in danger of judgement. Not from me or any human being, but from a perfect and holy God."

We must find the ability to love sinners, no matter how despicable their sin. We must be willing to share the truth about the need for repentance and faith in Christ regardless of whether it might offend them. The church has no business judging unbelievers, but it is the business of the church to warn unbelievers of God's wrath towards sin and the forgiveness that rests in Christ alone.

I am still anguished that I didn't get to share the truth with this woman about the danger she was in, but I can only entrust her to God now. I do thank God however for this incident. It was reminder for me that I need to be more conscious of the state of people's souls. I am around people who need Christ every day, and everyday I let those people leave my presence without sharing Christ. I realize that there are time where it is not conducive to share the gospel, I'd be a liar if I said to you that I would never let this happen again and that I would share the gospel with every person I meet from now on that I think might need the Lord. I know I will continue to fail time and again. But I thank God for a wake up call. I need to be more broken for the lost, compassionate toward sinful people.

We as the church must always remember that saying "but for the grace of God, there go I." I'm no less sinful than that woman, I've just been granted God's grace. I pray that she will one day know Jesus too. I pray that God will continue to make me more concerned for the lost that are around me. Though I may not always share the gospel when I ought, I pray that I will fail to do so less and less.



Anonymous said...

I think you did a good job with this woman. You let her know you cared about her soul without coming on too strong. Also, if you had tried to evangelize her with the flood of customers coming in, it may not have bothered you or the boss, but it may have embarrassed the woman and turned her off to the Message. We'll never know for sure, but I think your restraint was wise. God may open another door to this woman. Good job.


Anonymous said...

Your reaction alone was probably more than enough to plant the first seed of Christianity in her life. She recognized something in you that she found unexpected, and I am sure that she will give that more thought. She may, in fact, seek you out at another time with questions about your faith and how she can come to know Christ as Lord. Don't be too hard on yourself for not saying more to her at that time. Maybe her heart was only open to that bit of Christ that you showed to her at this point in her life. As you know, God is in control, and he can work mighty works through this small seed that you planted.

Barry said...


Thank you so much for sharing this experience of yours. It gives the rest of us time to consider how we can also get caught up in the day to day tasks that we forget what God has commanded us to do.

You have also prompted me to tell a similar story about my dad's best friend. I will post it later today.