My sister and I were chatting recently and that's the question she posed. It stuck with me and I've thought about it almost daily since. Does our shock and even repulsion at the worlds condition lead to behavior that makes it difficult for those lost in the trappings of sin to approach us? Have we a list of Christian dos and don'ts that set the bar so high that people give up before trying? Yes and yes if you ask me.
As I've spent time in prayer and meditation with this idea, the Holy Spirit has revealed much to me about my own character. The deep sighing and head shaking with which I so piously have pointed out the shortcomings (or my perception of them) of others sickens God. The Lord gave us the Holy spirit when Jesus ascended as the still small voice that resides within our very hearts to gently and humbly guide us. Do I think that I can do a better job than the Holy Spirit? What makes me think it's my job to tell anyone else what I think of the state of their soul?
Should we sincerely study the ministry of Jesus we would find him expressing love and mercy. The only people he got confrontational with were the religious community. Stop thinking yourself so lofty when your heart is empty and proud, that was the basic idea. He made it easy, come to me all who are weary and heavy laden...I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28.) Tired and burdened, not sinful! He is a giver of peace and rest for those worn down by life. Goodness! That's all of us...those who wear the label of Christian or not! The broken and unredeemed nature of the world breeds that heaviness of the soul. Rest, rest, rest! That's what Jesus offered.
Do I offer the same?
Like the Good Samaritan, I need to climb into the gutters and clean the wounds of everyone in need. We are very good at tithes and offerings, at serving holiday meals to the poor and donating our time and goods. All so very important. But what of the wounds and needs that reside on the inside. Those that, perhaps, we cannot even know to be present? What if our insensitivity is causing someone to quietly step an inch farther from Jesus? God forbid, and God forgive us!
I've repented and submitted my heart on this. I will allow others to be weary and heavy laden and I will do what I can to give rest. The rest of a smile, of a silent prayer, of a cup of coffee or a hug. The rest of letting the Holy Spirit do the talking while I stay quietly in the background offering supplication to the one who is the Giver of healing and redeeming peace.