As we mentioned last time, discernment is vital to Christians. We need insight and understanding in our ministry: Insight into whom, what, when and how to present Christ to the souls He places in our lives. We also need at least some understanding of where each person is in their relation to God. We might say we need to have the ability to read people and meet them where they are. Love them where they are. One thing believers really must understand (and so many do not) is that unbelievers don’t have need of discernment – they already have it in spades. Those in and of the world can discern insincerity, phoniness and manipulation from a long country mile away. They know if we are real or Memorex in very short order. Therefore…as ambassadors of Jesus Christ we best be real.
Being real means truly loving people and having their best interest at heart. It means living out: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (II Corinthians 12:15) It means being transparent before them. Honest about our own failings and frailties. It means consistent integrity and being humble and approachable always, wherever we may be. It means loving them in their language, not (to them) obscure Christianese. It means being there for them in the bad times and the good times. It means praying for them. It means LISTENING.
Ron Hutchcraft (see part 1) adds “It’s easy to hang out with other believers – it’s hard work to build relationships with someone outside of Christ: But your relationship with a lost person may be the only road that will take that person to the cross. He or she will most likely get to the cross because he or she was loved there – by a friend of Jesus.”
I have witnessed some atrocious behavior by Christians that have chased people away from the cross; further away than they had ever been. I am not referring to a few naughty words slipping from a Christian mouth or some other sinful behavior – bad as those things may be. Non-Christians have a high tolerance for such if we are real. No, my heart has been grieved to the quick witnessing unloving, unfair and ugly treatment of the very people the Lord has poured Himself through us to love, to bless, to be spent for. It’s a heavy and sober reminder that as ambassadors of Jesus Christ we best be real. And we best learn about bi-directional relationships.
More on this next time.