In mid-August, a student named Stephanie and I sat and prayed with a young man as he made the decision to give his life to Jesus Christ. This was a milestone in our ministry because although many students have recommitted their lives to the Lord in our youth group, this student was the first to come to know Jesus under our ministry. It was very cool.
However, as we sat talking, this young man told us some things that broke my heart. His mother was never really in the picture; he had been kicked out of his home by his father; and he was currently living on the street. Many families of his friends showed him kindness by taking him in during the evening hours, but when it came time to sleep, he was usually back outside again.
Due to his homeless state, he had done some things to survive that he wasn’t proud of. Prior to being kicked out of his home, he had dabbled in some demonic practices similar to rituals of witchcraft. We assured him that these things don’t change God’s love for him. We understood that living on the streets causes people to have to survive any way they can and that God forgives him for those things.
We were already crying, but he started to cry harder.
Then he told us what I considered to be the worst part of his story. He’d been to two other churches before ours that had turned him away after hearing his story. My heart broke. This young man was searching so desperately for someone to love him and help him turn his life around that it only took attending our youth group twice before he gave his life to Jesus. That was all he wanted; we had the answer, but he’d been turned away from other places that were supposed to offer the same one.
I’ll be honest–a part of me became angry when I heard that. I tried my best to allow God to take my anger and I told the young man that sometimes people get fearful of what they don’t fully understand but, I assured him, nothing he’d done was unforgivable by God. Nothing he’d done made him unlovable to God.
Since then, God has been reminding me of the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. You’ll find the story in John chapter 8. Many of us know the story. Jesus is teaching in the temple and the Pharisees bring a woman to Him who was caught in the act of committing adultery. According to the Law of Moses, the woman was to be stoned to death. The Pharisees reminded Jesus of the law and asked Him what they should do with her so that they could trap Him into saying something they could use against Him.
Jesus does something a little odd. He stoops down and begins to write in the dirt with His finger. The Bible doesn’t say why He did this or what He was writing. The Pharisees kept trying to force Jesus to answer about whether they should stone the woman. Finally, Jesus gives them an answer.
They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more” (John 8:7-11, NLT).
Girls, the Bible does talk about judging the actions of other believers, but this woman didn’t know Jesus when she was caught sinning. The Pharisees were trying to judge her according to something she didn’t know. The Bible also tells us that we can’t judge non-believers by the standards of believers because they don’t know our standards; they don’t know our Jesus.
We aren’t supposed to condemn non-believers and turn them away from Jesus. We’re supposed to love them and bring them to Jesus. What the young man in our youth group experienced in the past were people who turned him away from Jesus. What he found at our youth group was a student who loved him and brought him to Jesus. Then he was told, “Neither does the Lord condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
Are you loving other people in a way that brings them to Jesus?
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean mothering to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2:4).
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