I recently attended a women's forum at my church. The evening began with a member of my church sharing a brief testimony with us. In a nutshell, it went like this:
"I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a Pastor and my mother was very involved in the women's ministry as well as home schooling us kids. From a very early age, I knew Christ as my Lord and Savior and had memorized many passages of scripture. As a young adult, I attended Master's College were I grew a great deal in the Lord and experienced true Christian fellowship. It was a wonderful time of growing in grace. That is where I met my husband. I am now a wife and a mother of a sweet little girl with another child on the way."
And here is how she ended her testimony: "The thing I need prayer about, is that I have a very difficult time being around lost sinners. They make me very uncomfortable."
I sat there stunned. In my mind I thought, "What? This is a woman who has memorized the entire book of James. How does this happen? Forgive me Lord; but, I cannot for the life of me understand this. Whatever she thinks that she has--it is not Christianity."
Will I pray for this woman? Yes, I will. But I will not pray that she learns to tolerate lost sinners. I will pray that the Lord will change her heart and fill her with love for the lost and for His truth. The truth that apparently has not yet permeated and changed her heart, mind and soul, despite her parents influence and her Christian upbringing; her involvement in the church; her eduction at Master's College, Christian fellowshipping, and her own personal discipline of scripture memorization. Until and unless that prayer is answered, I would not even want her around lost sinners representing the Savior.
As I was pondering all this, I came across these quotes by Walter Chantry from a Banner of Truth article. Clearly this is a message that those who wear His name, need to hear.
"I am afraid that too many, like the scribes and Pharisees, see sinners as bothersome. We are attempting to build a 'clean' society and they are in the way. They disrupt our programme and dirty the landscape. But they are torn asunder by their sins and taken captive by the wicked one at his will. Is there no loving pity for sinners? Their humanity is utterly shattered by their own sin.
Our Saviour's heart is drawn to lost humanity. He has an urge to be near the broken specimens known as sinners. We say that we want to imitate our Lord Jesus. Surely, if we begin to be more like him, we too will desire to spend time with sinners, to be fishers of men, to labour at recovering lost humanity.
The Saviour's high purpose in coming into the world was 'to seek and save that which was lost'. How can we be like him and not share that purpose to some extent?" Evangelism of sinners is very close to the core of His heart of love. Never does God take pleasure in the death of the wicked. God's pleasure arises from seeing the wicked turn from his way to live."