Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Light, you stupid candle, light part 2

Mark made a comment in my last post about his friends reactions if they discovered their name online in a list of people he said needed to be saved.

I'd been thinking about something along those same lines as well.

Lisa doesn't realize I believe she's bound for hell at the moment. And I don't think Lisa knows that I'm praying daily that she'll be saved. She doesn't know the many times I've mourned for the havoc that sin has played within her family. And she doesn't know the many times I prayed she would simply turn her burdens over to Christ for relief.

She should know those things.

Shouldn't all our unsaved friends know these things? Is there some good reason, a common sense reason that I'm just not seeing that we should keep these things a secret from them? Are we afraid to announce that we believe in heaven and hell? Are we afraid to proclaim that our Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the only way to salvation? Are we afraid we'll lose their friendship if we do any of those things? As much as you want to live in peace with everyone, is it actually best to keep the peace by hoping they'll figure out they're going to hell without Christ on their own?
Have we stopped preaching that "there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end leads to death"? Not from our pulpits, but from our homes. From our theatre seats after a movie expounds a way that seems right. From across the table in a restaurant. From across our desk.

I'm not saying we have to bash people over the head with it every time we talk to someone. But, having them be surprised to know you believe they're going to hell seems to be even worse. A poorly done over enthusiastic witness seems to be better than no witness at all. God can at least use the poorly done one. Though I don't underestimate His ability to use the silent one.

I guess the main question I have is this: If we won't tell our friends -the ones we love -, then who will we tell?


SLW said...

Probably, no one. Tell the ones God has ordained you to have an in with. You know them as well as you do for a reason. God's fishing net is a lattice of interconnecting relationships. Use your connections, that's what God's given them to you for. How many of us who know Jesus know him because a friend or family member used his or her connection to us?

To your next to last paragraph, a hearty amen! Passion and judgment need to ride in tandem.

flyawaynet said...

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." This is the first time I'd really want to challenge something you said slw.

Hasn't God ordained us to tell everyone?

SLW said...

I'm not saying don't tell everyone, the question is how do you do that practically? Where do you start? By not telling the ones near in the hopes of telling the ones far away when you have the opportunity? What's the most practical place to start telling? Everyone who takes that commission seriously, even those who are on track to go cross-cultural to a far away place, must start first at their Jerusalem, i.e. with the folk they know now (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). The whole world gets reached when each of us tell the ones within earshot and then spreads our net. So make sure you tell the ones God has placed you in contact with now-- the ones you have the most opportunity to reach, the ones for whom you may be the only one who can reach them. Afterall, if we won't tell our friends, the ones we love, [the ones within reach now] then who will we tell? And maybe just as important, who else will tell them?

Mark H said...

Your zeal has renewed a sense of hope within me for those nearest and dearest. I was laid awake in bed for a while last night, praying for them, and asking God to show me how to set them free. Thank you.

But please don't confuse hesitancy to name people on a public list with being silent about good news, not loving them, desperately wanting them to have an eternal relationship with our loving Father, and doing everything I can to help them come into that.

Indulge me a little to tell you about some past experiences of some of the people I love. I don't know if what I'm about to tell happens where you are too, or if it will give you a shocking picture of some people's church experiences in Europe / Britain. (For an American's view on British religious culture take a look at Sam Metcalf's recent posts since he moved to London a few weeks ago.)

There is a small community to the west of us where a lady once asked the local plumber to fit her out with a new bathroom suite and he refused because she wanted a coloured suite. The local church minister came to her door to tell her that because she didn't want a white suite she was a harlot and her soul was condemned to hell.

I have a relative who I love dearly whose mother went to church every Sunday but was full of bitterness and hate. I can't go into what happened to my relative as a child and the effect it's had on them in subsequent life but I guarantee you'd be sobbing into your carpet if I did.

I know someone who was abused as a small boy in the church choir by the choir master, I suspect sexually abused.

I know quite a few people who have been on the receiving end of fire and brimstone condemning preaching by people who I struggle to believe know one drop of their Heavenly Father's love.

I know people who just won't talk about their past experiences of church. All I know is that they're disgusted and/or hurt.

(Please note that I'm not dis'ing church or saying all church is like this - far from it. But I do acknowledge - and I've checked into - some people's experiences, and such experiences are sadly not that uncommon and they get shared with others who haven't seen the real deal either.)

I've been praying for, and chatting through with, some of these precious friends and family since I became born again in 1987. The difference between the God that I've come to know and the picture that was painted for them previously by poor examples is so vast that many of them thought I'd joined a cult at first. My initial zeal, well meaning, truthful, and heart-felt as it was, did little to help. It's taken years for me to become more confident to speak to them knowing this is what they felt and to win a little confidence and trust with them on the subject of church and God. (The confident, loving, sharing me that you now know through my blog is unfortunately not the me of only a few years ago - and I'm forever growing in this respect.)

I've become aware that many of them are watching me too. They've seen us move half way across the country because God put it in our hearts, only to arrive in a place that they perceive as even more religiously pious than the place we left, where we've helped those who suffered a painful church split due to controlling and religious spirits in their old church (not a good witness!) and then our own church hasn't really grown numerically in this spiritual environment either.

What they haven't seen of course is the networking of like-minded folk that God has established over the time since we came here and the serious spiritual warfare that has gone on over this place which has resulted in the environment we're now blessed with. Neither do they understand God's heart for this place, which absolutely thrills me.

But they are now just seeing some of the early fruit. Many of them are talking to me about our street work including the healing we do on the streets. They can see the love that we have that is prepared to go the extra mile and do the unthinkable in our culture. I can see the view of church that they had starting to crumble round the edges, just a little, in the last few months.

Please keep encouraging me. I value your friendship. Please pray into all that we're doing and please pray for my family and friends - my heart really is breaking for them. But I hope you've glimpsed that they may well misconstrue a "Salvation Watch List" - that's a very emotive phrase to people who've been through some of the things I touched on above.

The thing about those nearest and dearest to us is that once we've shared the message with them, if they reject it then we really can't just shake the dust off our feet and try somewhere else. We can't avoid long-term praying, sobbing, weeping and hoping.

Thanks for standing with me for their sakes.

One Sided said...

So far the worst that has happened to me is someone I knew has stopped talking to me.

Scripture ( Old Testiment ) at the moment I am lost to the book, says that if we know of some one who does not know God and we fail to tell them and they die, then their bood is on our head. IF we tell them and they die, then their blood is on their head.
not an exact quote.

It is difficult. Like SLW I have friends who have been hurt by those they should have been able to trust. And it is very easy to transfer what should be our trust and faith in God, to the people we look to teach and lead us. And those who have been hurt blame God for the failing of man. We can talk, love, pray, listen and stand firm in our faith.

flyawaynet said...

slw, between your last comment and marks last comment I've gotten todays post. At least I hope I have. One thing you said "The whole world gets reached when each of us tell the ones within earshot" got my attention and I liked the way you said it.

And Mark, your comment helped me see the next post I want to write so I won't comment on what you said too much here, except the one point you made that I need to add into my "conclusion" that I talked about drawing earlier. "don't confuse hesitancy to name people on a public list with being silent about good news"
I won't. And I'm glad you made that point.

There are a lot of reasons out there why people do the things they do, and I wish I had been a little bit more careful to make sure my post concerning those that don't give a name (for reasons of their own) didn't sound condemning.

Really, and I hope this gives you new perspective on my writing, my post was aimed at people like me. People who, even when given an opening stifles the words of Life sometimes. People who before never even had the idea to stop and pray with someone they pass by on the street. People who forget how good and necessary God is for the daily struggles of life, and how hot hell is.
People, who need to be inspired.

flyawaynet said...

One_Sided, good to see you on my blog again. :)

Your comment touched on what I attempted to say in my post but didn't make very clear I believe. It's not that we should be verbalizing our witness every day or even every month. But that our friends and family, these people that we know are not saved, should know what we believe concerning them. If you know for 100% that they're not sure, at some point, in a 15 year friendship, or a 4 year work relationship, I would hope that they understood that you believe they're in need of a Saviour. They shouldn't be surprised to discover it. Then after that... "We can talk, love, pray, listen and stand firm in our faith."

Mark H said...

I don't think the post was condemning. Just heartfelt. And that's good! Don't stop!