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I’ll admit I often see things as either black or white. Right or wrong, with little space for anything in between. Life is easier that way. Everything in a neat little box, no pesky loose threads to deal with. But lately I’ve been thinking about the gray space. That nuanced space where a soul is leaning towards God, hungry for something they can’t quite put their finger on, but they haven’t yet made the leap into his arms. What about that space?
How do we, as followers of Jesus, participate in that sacred space that exists between the moment someone feels the tug of God on his or her heart and the moment they decide to surrender to his love? Because how we choose to participate matters. Our response can turn people towards God, or against him. Unfortunately, many people outside of the love of Jesus also feel unloved by and unwelcome in the church. How do we change that? How can we create an environment that says, “You are welcome and loved here,” and yet encourages people to confront their sin, because we all need to, don’t we?
Too often as Christ-followers we’re offended or surprised when unsaved people talk or act–well–unsaved. Offense doesn’t do anyone any good. Not you, not them–no one. I become pretty unloving and unkind when I’m offended, and I’m guessing it doesn’t do anything lovely for you either. The results are usually pretty ugly. God alone has the right to be offended, and yet he chooses to forgive. What a powerful way for us to show the love of Jesus–by choosing not to be offended.
A friend of ours, a pastor in a large city, welcomes people who don’t yet know Jesus to be a part of the worship team at his church. He feels this is a great way to surround them with people of faith and whet their appetite for God. Other people would argue that it’s counter-productive to have unsaved people on the worship team, because the team is meant to be the ones leading people into the presence of God. I understand the argument for both sides. But how we respond and react to an opportunity like this has repercussions that shouldn’t be taken lightly. More than anything, I love that our friend was willing to think outside the box, wrestle with the question, and then do what he thought Jesus would have him do–despite how others might react. Is this a way for us to participate in the gray space and draw someone closer to Jesus? Maybe. It’s definitely something to think about.
Have you ever wondered what God saw in you before you knew him? As his followers, are we able to look for those same things in others, who don’t yet know him, and encourage, not squash, them? It’s easy to label, pigeonhole, and typecast an individual and then dismiss them based on those assessments. But is that what we want–easy? Nothing about Jesus transforming a life is simple, but it is incredible, and something I want to be part of in any way I can.
I asked a lot of questions in this post because (dah, dah, dah, dah–drumroll, please) I don’t have all of the answers (you’re shocked, right?) :). These are just questions that I wrestle with, and I thought maybe we could work through them together. I would love to hear your thoughts!