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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why I Haven't Restored People to Their Faith

Most of us have walked some distance away from the Lord at some time in our lives. Many of us needed a crisis to bring us back to Him. We understand the story of the Prodigal who would look at his present circumstances and reason it is better to be a servant in the house of the Father than be in complete control of the pigpen. Therefore, we went home.

This process seems normal to us now. However, it is not God's design. Other believers should have noticed the distance between us and the Lord. They should have done something. 

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying they were responsible for my behavior. I, and you, did the walking away. We could have walked over these believers to get where we wanted to be. In fact, we probably would have.

Why don't we say something when we see others walk away from the Lord; especially when it is obvious? Here are the things I have observed in my own life.

I fail to understand that the sin has captured them. They are caught in a lie that says that the sin will not affect their relationship with the Lord. This lie says that the sin is better than walking in purity. This lie says that true joy will be found when this sin is completed. This lie says the action isn't sin at all. It is just fulfilling desire.

I, too often, see them as making a conscious choice through the whole process to complete their sinful walk. I, therefore, do not see my own responsibility of bringing them home. Unfortunately, my attitude is too often: "You made your bed. Now you will have to sleep in it!" This is a flaw in my character. It is not true love. It is an excuse for abdicating my responsibility to others.

I fail to take a gentle attitude toward them. I am more like Paul when he deals with John Mark. I will not take them on a journey with me. I understand that they will need to rebuild my trust when they return to the Lord but I must be gentle with them to bring them home. I am more likely to tell them the consequences of their harmful behavior than the benefits of walking with the Lord. Both must be said  for they temper each other. 

I don't want to go where they are. There is a measure of danger of restoring another person. You have to remain close to them while trying to call them out of their sinfulness. It means you are susceptible to what they are doing.  You must be sure that you are walking with the Lord is a strong walk before pulling someone out of sin. You must be spiritual; not merely someone who knows the Lord. This spiritual walk must be maintained carefully while you remain close to the one in sin. It is very easy to be pulled into their sin with them.

I don't like carrying others' burdens. I think I have enough of my own and leave others alone. This is a very selfish and lazy attitude. It is extremely unloving. I fail to understand the law of Christ which is a life of love which is laid down for my friends.

Surely, there are those whom I will go to who will be captured by sin anyway. I cannot bear the responsibility for their actions. I only have a responsibility for my own. I am responsible for noticing when people are captured. Trying gently to restore them while remaining close to them. I am responsible for fasting and praying that they will return to the relationship they once had with the Lord.

Would this make a difference in the way we deal with sin in the church? I think so. The flaw is not merely in those who are caught in a sin but in those who stand idly by and let them do so. I, for one, cannot allow this to continue to happen. 

I will be a part of the restoration of others.

Galatians 6:1-2 (ESV)
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

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