We’re thinking through some practical suggestions for how we can become grace wholesalers. First was a prayer. Second, we need to gain a platform. What I mean is that you need to develop a relationship so you have a platform to speak God’s truth into that person’s life. You need to develop a relationship where that person feels close enough to you to confess their junk to you, because the Bible says that confession is the path to healing. Develop a relationship so you have a platform. And within that relationship, seek to determine the person’s trajectory. Ask questions like: Which way is forward from here for him? Which way is she moving? Is he getting closer or further away from God? How can we best help them move forward?
Last year I co-led a session at the North American Christian Convention with a pastor named Cal Jernigan. Our topic was something like, “Preaching to the Unconvinced.” So both Cal and I spoke for twenty minutes each. And one of the things we both focused on was this – Cal talked about lost people need to know you like them before they’ll listen to what you have to say. He explained that in most churches you’re asked to behave (“If you’re gonna hang out with us you need to behave!”), then you’re asked to believe, and once you do all that, then you can belong. He said at their church that’s reversed. First you belong, right away you’re accepted and befriended. Then we hope you’ll grow to believe. And only after you believe will we assume that you’ll start behaving. He said, “You have to accept and befriend people first, while they’re still messed up and not behaving.” Then I spoke on some of the same themes. About being grace wholesalers, accepting people where they’re at.
So then we had a question and answer time. And this guy in the back raises his hand, Cal is at the mike, and he has this intense look on his face, and he says: “You know what?!? I hear you guys talking about liking sinners, and about loving sinners, but what I want to know is: When do you call sin sin?!? When you tell sinners that they’re sinners?!? When do you preach about sin, and hell?!?” So Cal is at the mike and he says, “That is a great question, and Vince has a great answer for you,” hands me the mike, and walks away. So I said, “Sir, I appreciate your question, but I would encourage you instead of assuming, to go to our web site and listen to our sermons, and you tell me if I preach about sin and hell. In fact, all you have to do is listen to our sermon from this past Sunday, and you tell me if I preach about sin and hell. But let me ask you a question: When you read the gospels, where do you see Jesus going up and calling sinners sinners? Or, do you see Jesus leading with love? Establishing a relationship, showing a person that he cared, and then helping that person to see where they need to change. And don’t we want to follow the example of Jesus? See, here’s my guess: I bet you talk to people about their sin, and I know I talk to people about their sin. The difference is that when I talk to them about it, they listen to me. And I bet people don’t listen to you. And the reason they listen to me, is because I lead with love. I establish a relationship first.” Then I got cheers from people, and amen’s and stuff. Then the guy beat the crap out of me. No, not really, but I was afraid of that.
Anyway, you get my point. We need to gain a platform.
What’s third? That comes next time.
Until then, don’t rock the boat baby.
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