Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Last night, Deanna and I went to dinner to celebrate our 24th Anniversary. This was our rescheduled date since we were "iced in" last time. We headed out during a heavy traffic time and the stoplights were backed up with cars.

We sat and shared with each other about our days. As we did, I looked in my rearview mirror. What I saw was a bit romantic. The couple in the Jeep behind us were each leaning to the center in an affectionate kiss.

I kind of laughed, and told Deanna what I saw. The light changed and we pulled forward. The Jeep did not. They were too occupied. I noticed the driver lean out of the embrace a bit to see they had been left behind.

I had become the play by play man to keep Deanna up to date. We continued to laugh playfully. She did not want to turn around because it would be too obvious. I was starting to feel a bit voyeuristic, but I took another peek. We were on our Anniversary date, and this was clearly romantic (I justified). They had caught back up to us. We were now the first car at the light.

At first I thought someone had pulled in between us, because what I saw I did not expect. Then, another kiss. This was the same couple. Maybe it was their anniversary too.

The light turned green, I offered my final off-color commentary, and we were on our way.

We enjoyed our meal and our time together. It was very meaningful to both of us. We got lost in each other, and quickly forgot about the couple.

As I thought and prayed about what to say this morning, the Lord reminded me about the devotions I was writing yesterday, for an upcoming event at work.

"How do you respond when you see the lost?" was the topic. I ventured into the fact that we often pass judgment on others for their lifestyles or overt sinfulness. We do this freely without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, we learn this in many of our churches across America.

Our response is not Jesus' response. At least mine isn't, even though I like to think it is. The Lord showed me otherwise.

In Matthew 9:35-36 it says, "Jesus went through all the towns and villages...When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

The greek word used to describe Jesus' reaction is "splagnizomi." It literally means, he was sick to his stomach.

I must tell you, I thought I experienced the same thing. I was wrong. Jesus was sick to his stomach over their lostness, over their need for a shepherd, over the fact that he knew how things could be for them if they received Him. They were going about what they were doing because they did not know any better. They did not know because no one was telling least not anyone with compassion for their circumstances.

I was sick because my stomach turned over something I found unacceptable. Compassion was not a part of my equation.

We are all too willing to tell people their problems with a judgmental attitude. Jesus wants our sickness to be over their lostness, not over their chosen sin. When we preach from that place, we do so with compassion. When we reach out to them with that attitude, then we are acutely aware of our own failures in a different light...a non-judgmental one.

The couple behind us were both women.

I passed judgment on them over their chosen lifestyle. The Lord Jesus has shown me a new attitude. One void of condescending holiness. One that is Holy Spirit filled. Yes, I know what Romans 1 and other passages of Scripture say. I don't disagree.

He showed me that I cannot have a positive impact on anyone else's life if judgment is my weapon of choice. I need to wield the love and compassion of Christ for the lost, not my own "steel-toed, kick them into conformity," approach.

"For God so LOVED..."



At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, now we need to love sinners who are not like us too! What a radical idea. You're really gonna turn the world upside down with that one! :-) \o/

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent, your posting touched my heart,because I had an employee who was gay and she and I became friends before I knew of her life style. I liked her for who she was not her choice of lifestyle and she knew my feelings on the subject but knew also that did not make me judge her. I have made too many mistakes in my life to ever judge others for theirs. I'm not perfect by a long shot but I am certainly trying everyday to be more like Jesus than the day before. My friend has not worked for me for sometime now but she returns for a visit every year or so and the last time she was here she shared with me she has changed her lifestyle and is straight, going back to school, changing her career and is attending church. She came to let me know she appreciated me and my acceptance of her. I don't say this to put myself in the position of bragging but to let others know how much not judging a person can influence them and hopefully bring change.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a great lesson for all of us....when Jesus encounters the adulterous he doesn't approach her the way I think I would...but the way I should.

God Bless
Greenfield, Indiana

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not see that coming! What an excellent posting today. I need to be continually reminded (because I'm a slow learner apparently)that Jesus loves in an entirely different way than I do. I do find myself condeming others long before I feel love for them and sadness because they are lost. Shame on me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but, it seems to me, that Jesus knew each of us were sinners, so we shouldn't be casting stones. It's easy, to look at others as "lost", when we all are lost and full of sin. I know, I continually go in and out of a state of "lost". That's why it's important to pray throughout the day.

God Bless,
Greenfield, Indiana


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