Hearts break. Souls long for peace. Tears dry on weathered faces and for some, tears never come. Broken. Abused. Neglected. Scorned. Rejected. Disparaged. These are the pictures of the lost souls waiting for someone to introduce them to Jesus. These are the people who are overlooked and unappreciated. These are the people that the church claims to be searching for and rescuing. They are lost and need someone to help them find their way.
There are others that the church ignores and in some ways, the church is responsible for their pain. These are the ‘churched’ lost – the people sitting beside you in the pew with frozen smiles and responses of “I’m fine.” People who have been hurt within the church and so have moved to a new location but carry their wounds deep within. People who have been broken, abused, neglected, scorned, rejected and disparaged. In this group may be the holier-than-thou Pharisees of the modern-day church as well as those who are abused by the church system. This group contains people who have been sold the lie that Christians should not have troubles but should be bringing the Light to others. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine ……”
How can anyone let their light shine when it has been extinguished by abuse, neglect, rejection and gossip? You’d be surprised.
I’ve seen people who place a false candle in their window and shine a fluorescent light instead of the light of Christ. (I’ve been one of those people.) Their smiles are big on Sunday morning, and their worship is robust – but it is all for show. They deflect any intrusion into their space with seemingly concerned inquiries into the lives of those who approach them. They are often seen as the ‘most compassionate’ and ‘most caring’ people in the church because they spend all of their energies covering up their problems and issues by throwing themselves into good works for others.
I’ve also seen good people ignore those who are so obviously hurting – walking right by them to get to their good friends and in the process causing even deeper wounds. I’ve watched as completely self-absorbed people are so busy broadcasting their latest successes (and failures) that they completely miss an opportunity to minister the love of Christ to one who is hanging onto life by a thread.
I’ve comforted the families of those who committed suicide, holding hands and praying, offering whatever comfort or service the Lord leads, while all the time painfully aware that the church let this one down. This believer couldn’t take it any longer and the church was too self-absorbed to even notice their pain.
Others might say that no one knows what is going on inside of another person so the church can’t be held responsible. I say hogwash! Those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and in tune with His leading and guiding are MADE AWARE that there is a problem. They might not know to what extent there is a problem, but they know through the anointing of the Holy One that there is a problem.
When we are aware of such a circumstance we must never let go. We must never fall for the “I’m okay” or “I’m fine” response. We must surround such a one with love and arms of compassion and with the help of the Holy Spirit insinuate ourselves into their lives. We must be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus and help such a one find their way back.
I was once lost. I lost my compass. I knew I was lost but I didn’t know how to get back. I searched for the Lord but could not find Him. I never missed church and I was good at deflection and consequently the church never bothered with me. God finally called me back to Himself with fasting and I have been restored. But there were many times before that moment when I would have taken my life – gladly!
I am acutely aware of my own inadequacies and I am also aware of the greatness of our God. I have to trust that when He leads me to someone there is a reason and that reason may just be a rescue operation.
Today I challenge you to become a first responder – to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow Him into the trenches; to pray and ask Him to lead you to someone who needs help; and to be available to any who cross your path.