Lost or Missing? (An Open Letter to Christians)


 

To you, is he missing or lost?

To you, is he missing or lost?

Dear Christians,

 

When was the last time you made a stupid mistake, or took a wrong turn?

Did anyone ask if you were lost?

If someone asks, “Are you lost?” It can feel like a pointed remark. It emphasizes what is wrong, not what could be right. Most don’t enjoy feeling lost, being called lost, or being accused of being disoriented, and confused. Do you?

It’s often best to take the references to “being lost” in Biblical stories in their typical context of searching and finding something dear and misplaced. (Think: 1 lost sheep of the 100, the lost and valuable coin, etc.) What is lost is not something denigrated, but something worthy/lovable and missing from home. It is not speaking of a foreign thing, or scrappy thing.

Often Christians talk of “The Lost” (the sinner) though not in the context of finding them, but of fixing them. It doesn’t only strike me as rather rude, but it strikes most people this way. Since it’s typical “church speak,” most Christians are totally immune to its unloving sound.

The fact is we all feel a bit lost sometimes. We all feel lonely or afraid at points. It is when we can awaken to the Reality of God’s consistent love and power, and especially when we experience it from others, that we may see huge transformations for the better. Even then, we will still have our ups and downs, but the chance to have joy (sturdy happiness) and then, when a fuller, more abundant life is accessible. This is truly a gift of grace, (not merit).

As children of God, God’s love can show through us, like the father in the story of the Prodigal son, who exclaimed when his son came home, “He was lost, but is now found!” Did he want to fix him? Did he want to teach him a lesson? Hit him? Did he want to get him tested for HIV, ground him, give him a tongue lashing, or tell him what was right and wrong? Um. nope. The son knew already. Most missing people know right and wrong all too well, also. Many think they won’t be welcomed “home,” or think of the community of Christians as “home.” So, they can think, why should they bother trying? Ironical, isn’t it? Hospitality and hospital come from the same root word, and this manner of comfort just must be there to truly show God’s love.

What is a “missing one”? This one is not a person who is less than. It it not one to whom another human should “straighten out,” and save to the narrow path. People aren’t that powerful, and shouldn’t think they are. It’s just tacky. Most of it involves, standing true, and getting out of the way so grace can work its amazing-ness. God doesn’t need us to hold his hand. He asks us for our loyalty, but not just in our love to him-it is in our love to others from the perspective in which he sees them also.

How do you see it?

photo credit Creative Commons Andy Piper

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19 responses to “Lost or Missing? (An Open Letter to Christians)

  1. I see your point. I would prefer calling non-Christians by more biblical terms like objects of wrath (Eph. 2:3) or children of the devil (1 John 3:10). Soft-peddling these people’s standing before God is not doing anyone a service.

    Thanks,
    Bill

    • lisacolondelay

      I love your satire. Yes, lots of people only read the Bible in English, and wouldn’t even dream of reading a commentary, to boot, Bill. It’s great to remember in those cases, as I’m sure you have, who Paul and John speaking to when they wrote this. Religious and church people types? Or were these “evangelistic letters” to “the lost”? Context injects a lot of meaning into the text. It corrects blind potentially huge blind spots, right? How easy it is to start putting stumbling stones down for others, or laying heavy burdens on others, and keeping them from God’s grace that’s great than all our sin. My Jesus said his burden was easy and light. 🙂 Have a terrific day.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    There wasn’t a whole lot of satire in my comment. I do agree that lost may not be the best term for the unsaved. However, it is very clear that viable alternatives are children of the devil or objects of wrath, or many other such terms. If someone is a proud, unrepentant sinner, I wouldn’t hesitate to call them those things. Even if someone were humble, it would be okay to call them that as long as you lovingly explained why the Bible says that. No one will seek the Savior until they know their standing before God.

    You’re right that Ephesians and 1 John aren’t evangelistic letters, but there are a lot of evangelistic encounters in the New Testament, and we never see anyone pull any punches. Jesus was the most brutally honest, and He’s the one that called people children of the devil (John 8:44). The general principle I see for evangelism in the New Testament is “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” If they’re proud, Jesus calls them names or describes hell. If they’re humble, then Jesus spends time with them or gives them the gospel. You should do the same in your evangelism (assuming you love people and the Lord enough to share the gospel with them).

    Thanks,
    Bill

    • lisacolondelay

      Gosh, Bill. That wasn’t meant to be a rope-a-dope. I thought you’d realize I was kidding. Bill, I love you, honestly, and you have made my day. My grace is sufficient for you, Bill. 🙂 Thank you for your reply. And-It’s also nice, because you have completely proven my point. Imagine me “loving” telling you you are a “devil child.” What a sweet person I would be. You’d think I was just the kindest, most loving, most Godly person ever, wouldn’t you? 🙂

      You might want to do a word study on the Greek for “oppose”. They’re so much fun. I love it.

      It’s great to reserve judgment, because than you aren’t judged. I admit, I don’t know how it works completely, and you probably know a lot more than I know about it all, but for now, I’ll let you call God’s creatures devil children. I won’t go there. I’ll tell others how much love God had when he himself died for them. God made a way to God.

      I think as “Christians” we must not split off the Trinity. Jesus is God, correct? Jesus doesn’t say, “Oh, Daddy, don’t be so mad, I’ll die, and then it’ll all be okay. Don’t hate them because they are so dirty and sinful.” I honest think we are talking about the same God. One God. Do you? I don’t think there are 3 gods. Not sure what you think about that. Lots of people slip into modalism and think there’s a big mean Daddy angry one, and then a Jr nice sweet one who blesses children, and once a a blue moon throws a table. And then a sort of spooky Holy Ghost one, like a weird uncle. My dad was a Baptist, so I know these things!

      Sure, I share the gospel. I am my evangelism. Thank you so much for helping, Bill.
      God bless you.
      Lisa

  3. Lisa,

    Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you were sick and went to the doctor, and they ran some tests. The doctor calls you back into his office to discuss the results of the test. Which of the following 3 doctors would you prefer?

    Doctor 1 tells you that you have cancer, and that you will die a slow, painful death. He’s honest with you about the terrible condition you’re in, and the awful things the cancer will do to you. It’s an unpleasant truth, but it is the truth. Then, he tells you about the medicine you will have to take, and the side effects of the medicine don’t seem so bad anymore.

    Doctor 2 doesn’t want to ruin your day, and just wants to be loving, and tells you everything will be all right. He knows the medicine you’d have to take would be unpleasant, and doesn’t want to ruin your day by telling you the truth. He gives you a prescription, and says he really thinks you should take the medicine.

    Doctor 3, without ever introducing himself, or looking you in the eye, scribbles out a prescription, and tells you you should take the medicine or you’ll be dead in 3 months.

    I know that I would prefer Doctor 1 for my treatment, and which scenario would cause me to gladly take the medicine. That’s the type of evangelist I would like to be, and that’s the style of evangelism I see in the Bible. People need to know that their sin will take them to hell. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is call someone a child of the devil.

    Was Jesus being unloving when He called people children of the devil? Don’t you think that was the most loving thing He could have done for them? Do you want to be like Jesus or not?

    We aren’t doing anyone any favor by not warning them about the seriousness of their sin, and their deserving eternity in hell. Some people will be convicted and humbled by that conversation, and some will scoff and say they love their sin. The graphic language used to describe sin and sinners in the Bible is something we can use. I’m not ashamed of any verse in the Bible.

    Those who are humbled will be grateful to you for giving them the gospel. They’re ready to hear it, and they understand it.

    I certainly believe in the Trinity. I don’t know what I said to cause you to doubt that. Jesus is just as angry at sin as the Father. Anyone who’s read the New Testament knows that Jesus hates sin.

    I don’t know what you mean by saying you are evangelism, but the gospel is the message that saves (Romans 1:16). No one can get saved without hearing the gospel (Romans 10:14). This means that evangelism actually involves opening our mouths and explaining the gospel to people.

    The book of Acts has a lot of great evangelism stories in it. I’ll do a study on “oppose” and I’d recommend that you do a study on “law” in the New Testament. I thought it was pretty cool how the real purpose of the law is to bring us to Christ by showing us our sinfulness. What should I be looking for in my study of “oppose”?

    God bless you, too.
    Bill

  4. Bobbie Hall

    Bill,

    I too would glady pick Dr. # One. I would love his straightforwardness and candor. Having said that, I also have to take in to my mind that we would already have a relationship. I would have already seen this person before he told me this news…I sought him out in the first place to have the testing done. I came to him for his opinion and diagnosis. He just didn’t come in to my room and spew out the news at random.

    I would expect this man to have certain decorum and proper bedside manners. I would hope and expect that he wouldn’t take glee and delight in telling me that I am going to die. His manner would be soft spoken and kind. He would choose his words well and be empathetic towards my plight.

    When one becomes a doctor, they have no doubt worked long hours and have had much study to get where they are. They do not use thier training and schooling as a club to beat the already sick over the head with.

    They take an oath to heal. To do no harm.

    Can you seriously think that walking up to some one and calling them a devil child will make them want to seek out treatment and find healing?

    Let us use proper bedside manners when dealing with the sick and lost. AND with each other as well. Lets not pick at each other. Let us… as doctors working to heal lost hearts …work together…IN LOVE. Lisa…or anyone else on your “healing team” is not the enemy.

    Fight the good fight to the finish line, but make sure you are at battle with the right person.

    Proper decourm. Remember…we ALL are evangelism. As the saying goes…you, or I…might be the only Bible that someone reads.

    Your Teammate,
    Bobbie

  5. I will tread a little lightly here but I am fairly certain that Jesus’ most scathing accusations were for those who thought they were doing God’s bidding by deciding who was in and who was out. Those people called themselves children of God and Jesus said “Not so fast. When you behave this way, telling people that God doesn’t love them because they are bad and will only love them and do good to them when they become good you are behaving in a way that is opposed to God’s heart.” Yes, there are those who will simply refuse God’s good offer of forgiveness and salvation and those people are destined to to life apart from God. Problem is we don’t know what that will look like exactly and we don’t see Jesus threatening people with this. When the rich young ruler says no to Jesus you don’t hear Jesus say “you do realize that you will burn in eternal hellfire for this refusal.”

    God loves sinners and saints with the same heart and passion; this is John 3:16. The difference is that God’s love is allowed to work, hopefully, in the life of one who chooses to say yes to Jesus. The wrath of God that scripture talks about more often than not is simply God letting events run their course. People say “we don’t need you God” and God says “Ok.” This was the pattern again and again in the OT and when Isarael does that God steps out and they end up overun and exiled until they cry out to God who then shows up again and rescues them. Romans 1:18-32 begins with the wrath of God being poured out and the nature of that wrath is clarified in verse 24, “God gave them over…” In this way they are children of wrath, children subject to the ravishes of a world, that because of the fall, is hostile to them. So, the issue is not that there are bad people who do bad things the issue is what is God’s heart and desire for all of the people because all of the people (Romans 3 especially verse 23) are “bad.” But “bad” is not what ultimately defines us even if it may determine our eternal destiny when we refuse God’s offer to make us good again. No, what defines who we truly are is the love of God even if we refuse the benefits of that love. The fact of God’s love for all is not affected at all by our sinfulness.

    Bill, you may believe that you are defending the “true” gospel message against those of us who would water it down but I don’t accept that. I don’t hear “good news” from your reading of the gospel. I hear threats and coercion. I don’t hear love, I hear condemnation in direct contradiction to John 3:17. Lost, as Lisa mentioned, meant something valued and absent and therefore sought, we’ve turned it into something ugly and demeaning to those we are called to bring good news to. I read the I John 3 passage you mentioned and to read it as you have is rather pretentious and seems to imply that you believe that as a follower of Jesus you no longer sin. If you do sin then according to your reading of that passage you too are a child of the devil and not of Jesus. If that is not your claim then perhaps a different, more comprehensive reading of that passage may be in order.

    Tim

  6. lisacolondelay

    Bill,

    Well, I’ve never been to fond of the medical field, in general. But I like the Great Physician. I think your argument suffers from the logical fallacy of false dilemma, among other things.

    I know I’m sick, and I need a doctor, to continually make me more in his image. Jesus, didn’t come for the well, but for the sick. You’re not the doctor, Bill, you’re the patient, too, but you don’t know it. It’s not just one pill we pop, it’s a whole life of treatments and therapy with our Good Healer.

    Paul when he talked to the non believing Greeks in Athens called them offspring (children) of God. I guess I see it the same way.

    I’m not saying our ungodly acts/thoughts (sin) are pleasing to God or okay by him. For certain they harm us greatly. However, if he wasn’t gracious, you’d be dead. So would I. Why should he bother at all? Why does he bother? People are a constant affront to him, obviously, he looks the other way? Why? Jesus. But Jesus is God. For before the beginning of time there was redemption, a plan to save and redeem us. To love us. It seems he desires to love and interact with creatures who can know and love him back.

    The word “anger” and “angry” expresses displeasure, yes, but you really are thinking of it in a human way. God is not like a man in the sky. He’s isn’t like your dad was, ya know? Sadly, your God is so teeny tiny. And I would wonder why would anybody want him? He has a mood imbalance.

    The words described are not human emotions but descriptive of the Eternal Mind, the Supreme Other, that is “short lived”as in a concept and remediable. (Look it up in Hebrew and see how it’s used in various circumstances.) “Oppose” doesn’t mean “fight against”, or “hate.” You’ve taken the English so literally that you’ve squished your doctrine into a tiny box, and painted yourself into a corner. Not to take away all the fun of the word study treasure hunt for you, but it’s more like “disagree”.

    For instance, you oppose me right now, and you think I don’t preach the gospel, etc. However, by being kind, for starters, I show the same kindness as Jesus. I act through choice, not emotion, as I act out the same type of love that God himself did in Jesus the Christ.

    I’m not sure what you me by “law”. Are you talking about the contract with the ancient Israelites at Sinai? I just opt for Jesus’ answer there in this passage:

    Mark 12:28-34
    The Greatest Commandment (Law)

    28 One of the teachers of the law came [something Bill might ask] and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

    32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

    34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

    Thanks for coming out swinging, Bill. Always a pleasure to chat.
    Blessings to you.
    Lisa

  7. lisacolondelay

    Tim,
    I think we were typing at the same time!

    Your input is very interesting. Thank you for that clarification. Esp the “children of the devil” section. When misdirected, ouch, how hurtful. However, for Christians who actually hope to be a blessing and do the will of the Father, it’s like an ugly backfire that makes those who long for God’s love, or people seeking wisdom, truth, a better path, run the other way–and FAST!

    Lisa

  8. I want to thank Lisa, Bobbie and Tim for handling most of the aspects in this dialogue about those that we want to see approach God in loving grace-filled ways–that’s great news (gospel). I also want to thank Bill for his candid views about truth, law and the gospel. I do believe that you want to be true to God’s Word.
    As I observe Jesus and his encounters with lost people (missing people, by way of Lisa’s definition) in the gospel he carries such hope and opportunity. From conversing with a woman at a well to forgiving a woman caught in adultery to touching those in the leper colony to visiting a wee little man who ticked off his neighbors by extorting money from them, Jesus became the friend of sinners. His calling was revealed in Luke 4 when he read his “mission statement” from the scroll of Isaiah and from the heart of his Father to the poor, shackled, blind, and oppressed. He approached the wayward journeyer to bring them hope and convince them that perhaps they were not really as far away from God as they had been told.
    Bobbie thanks for your response to the three doctors analogy–I had the same thoughts.
    Now I want to consider the “children of the devil” in the 1 John 3:10 passage as well. John’s letter was written to contrast the correct gospel, which he carried as a first hand observer of Jesus’ life (1 Jn. 1:1-4) with those who were distorting the truth while calling themselves faithful to the gospel–they were the ones with the spirit of antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18-19). They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.
    Just like those who were claiming to be God’s children in John 8 (see Tim’s explanation), John is referring once again to people who claimed to be insiders to God’s plan and yet were performing the devil’s work–resisting the true gospel (1 Jn. 3:7-9). Thus the testing of spirits in 1 Jn. 4 in relation to teachers of the gospel. We find this unique dialogue throughout John’s letter, “There is you and me which makes us and there are them.” They are trying to deceive you, just like the devil.
    My thoughts for now.
    Holding onto grace,
    Jeff

  9. Bobbie,

    The majority of evangelistic encounters in the New Testament were with strangers. Don’t take my word for it. Prove it to yourself.

    As a Christian, one thing I consider to be very important is to debate with integrity, and not try to mischaracterize the beliefs others to make them easier to dismiss. I’ve said I aspire to be Doctor 1, and that means speaking the TRUTH in LOVE. Not leaving either of those items out. That’s all I’m saying, and I’m not really sure how anyone can disagree with me, since that is the Bible’s advice (Eph 4:15).

    You said, “Lets not pick at each other.” Granted, I started the picking (I don’t hold to your advice), but now it’s 3 on 1, and you’re disobeying your own advice by picking at me.

    Tim,

    I appreciate that you’ve at least attempted to answer my question about why it’s okay for Jesus to call people children of the devil. I would agree with you that Jesus reserved his harshest criticism for proud, religious people. However, there is no shortage of proud religious people today. They’re everywhere. Why should we reject the example of our Lord and not confront the proud, religious people with biblical language?

    We are all children of the devil until we are adopted into God’s family, and we then become children of God (John 1:12-13). We are dead in our sins until the Lord raises us to eternal life. If you’re having trouble understanding 1 John 3, you should study it further.

    I may have come off as unloving to you, but I haven’t presented the gospel to you. (I assume you’re already familiar with it.) I’ve never experienced a better feeling than to explain the gospel to a humble person, who is ready for it, and realizes they’re helpless without it. When we gain a true, biblical perspective on our sinfulness, it makes Jesus’ sacrifice all the more precious.

    Lisa,

    My point with the analogy is that it appears to me that you are Doctor 2. You advocate trying to get people to appropriate the cure by being likable, and obscure the true reason for taking the cure, which is that the unsaved are enemies with God who are headed to hell. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    You say my analogy presents a false dilemma. I disagree, because Doctor 1 is the obvious correct choice. You can prove that I’ve used the false dilemma fallacy by describing a better doctor. Keep in mind that there is a limited amount of time to sit here and type, and I genuinely tried to describe a good doctor–one who provides a good motivation to the patient to appropriate the cure. Furthermore, all analogies break down if you take them too far, which you’ve done.

    You referred to Acts 17:29, and said you agree with Paul. Do you think Paul believed that all humans are children of God? Do you believe that every human being is a child of God? If that’s what you believe, it is patently unbiblical, and we need to be having a different discussion.

    I think you’re the one twisting English to say what you want it to say. The unsaved will spend eternity in the lake of fire being tortured and having the wrath of God poured out on them. The “anger” and “opposition” you describe doesn’t jive with the reality of hell. Do you believe in hell? Why will people go there? Who do you think is in charge of hell? Who sends people to hell?

    I don’t assume you’re not preaching the gospel. In fact I’ve assumed you do evangelize. You said you are evangelism, and I said I don’t know what that means. I’ll come right out and ask. Have you ever, by speaking words with your mouth, explained to someone something similar to the following:

    1. God is holy and can’t let sin into heaven.
    2. Jesus died for sinners on the cross, and we can have our sins forgiven only through His sacrifice.

    If you’ve done that, how many times would you guess that you’ve done it?

    I often wonder how anyone can think that even that simple message could ever be conveyed without words.

    Thanks,
    Bill

    To anyone and everyone,

    I think the following questions need to be answered for this to be a meaningful conversation. I have to go with the example Jesus provided rather than what some people on the internet feel is best. I will search the Scripture with an open mind to determine whether your answers make sense.

    1. Was Jesus being unloving when He called people children of the devil?
    2. Don’t you think that was the most loving thing He could have done for them?
    3. Do you really want to be like Jesus?
    4. Why shouldn’t we (when appropriate) explain to someone that they are children of the devil?

    Thanks for the conversation.
    Bill

    • Bill,
      Here is the crux of the issue with your questions and why we seem to be speaking past one another.
      The simple answer to Question #1: Was Jesus being unloving when He called people children of the devil? is “No.” We agree, it is appropriate in that setting (a discussion about being children of God) with his audience (religious people who are ready to kill him) to tell them they are “children of the devil.” Yet I think your question is misdirected at people in general rather than those opposing Jesus’ attempts to liberate sinful people. I can cite several (and I mean several) other “soft” approaches to not-yet-followers of Jesus.
      The answers to Questions 2-4 cannot be answered and are not relevant to our discussion until we settle on a proper focus to question #1.
      Can we agree that the proper first question should be: Did Jesus ever approach those he was trying to bring into the kingdom by calling them “children of the devil?” If yes, please give examples.

  10. Bill,
    I am not having trouble understanding I John 3. :). I believe you are mischaracterizing the scripture in any number of places in order to maintain and justify your contention that that the gospel can only be communicated through a confrontational, offensive approach that is somehow mitigated by love. The problem I am having with what you seem to be arguing is that Jesus did not take this approach with the “strangers” that he evangelized. Jesus, as I said and you agreed, was harshest with those who claimed to follow and represent God but missed the fact that Jesus was God incarnate. These religious people dismissed Jesus as too gracious and quick to forgive, much as you seem to be doing with Lisa and myself and Bobbie. I am hard pressed to think of a single instance let alone a series of instances where Jesus, in an encounter with a non-believer, characterized them as children of the devil or threatened them with hell.

    Much of what you argue here seems to be linked with wanting to pattern your practice after the practice of Jesus and this is admirable and something I think we all aspire to. But here in lies the rub. You think Jesus did one thing and I (we) think that Jesus’ did something else entirely. You insist that we misread or ignore the scripture and in all fairness I think you misread the scripture in this regard. This puts us at an impasse. I will not get into a prooftexting battle because I think that a misuse of the scriptures. And I know that Lisa holds the scriptures in high regard and desires to pattern her life on the life of Jesus and not some watered down personal construct of what she wants Jesus to be. We all want truth with love and realize that there really is not one without the other. But we obviously disagree about what that looks like.

    What is so fascinating and maddening to me about all of this is how we can be reading the same Bible and about the same Jesus and come to such starkly different conclusions.

    Bill, I don’t doubt your sincerity or desire to honor God by faithful proclamation of the Gospel. But I do think you are mistaken about how Jesus approached non-believers and how he desires us to share the good news. Also, you work with a great amount of certainty in your understanding of the issues involved in this discussion. But not everyone who shares your faith shares your theological commitments. When our theology (mine as well as yours) becomes the sole lens through which we interpret the word of God we run the risk of idolotry because we stopped listening to the spirit of God who will lead us into all truth (John 16:12-15). I pray that we never stop listening.

  11. Bill,
    I believe that your doctor analogy is wanting, because as Bobbie points out, this is not the patient’s first encounter with the doctor. And to tell Lisa that she is Doctor # 2 in your analogy is unfair. She never said that she is seeking to withhold pertinent information about the patient’s well-being. She wants to help the patient receive the cure. It seems that she does not agree that children of the devil is a title deserving of yet-to-be-followers of Jesus or helping them to find hope.
    So let me propose a new analogy that looks like this:
    Doctor 1 without running any tests, without understanding the patient’s lifestyle, comes into the room and says in her first encounter, “I’ve seen cases like this before. You are doing something severely wrong in your life, you are misguided (even lost), and you deserve this genetic condition, because quite frankly you have cancer, and you will die. In fact I call your type ‘children of cancer.’ I have a cure, but first agree with me and confess the several things you did to deserve this fate and then the cure will work. Here’s a pamphlet with the steps to such a cure. You can do this yourself. I have many other patients to see and so my time is up for you. Give me a call if you need my advice again.
    Doctor 2 runs the tests, has dropped in to visit the patient several times to ask lifestyle questions (w/o judgment). She comes in and says, “You know these symptoms that you have been describing to me are cancerous. I’ve checked the tests several times and I am certain. I will be truthful with you–your current lifestyle will need to change, but I think you know that. I also want you to know that I have a very successful cure, and it can be painful at times, but I will be there to help you along the way. In fact, I am a cancer victim too. I will be sure to be here when they start the treatment to talk about your fears and answer any questions.”
    On her next visit (and after confronting another doctor who was offering a systemmatic program around the cure), she tells her patient, “Don’t pay any attention to that associate, he is child of cancer who just doesn’t get it.”

    I know which doctor I would trust. I can also tell you which one looks like Jesus. Doctor #2 did well without lumping her patient into a category called “children of cancer” or give them a label that reveals they are misguided. And does place that label where it belongs.
    I think that Tim, Lisa, Bobbie and I have heard enough stories about Doctor #1’s approach to see that it is not working, and is actually creating serious barriers to Doctor #2’s approach. This saddens my evangelistic heart and I believe the heart of a God who describes himself as a father waiting for his children to return.
    Bill, I know you want to defend “children of the devil” because Jesus said it, but I think you are missing Tim’s point–Jesus didn’t say it to his yet-to-be-followers, he said it to those who claimed religious superiority.
    So can we agree that John 8 does not relate to yet-to-be-followers of Jesus but only to religious zealots?
    Holding onto grace,
    Jeff

  12. I want to go to Jeff’s Doctor :).

  13. Bobbie Hall

    Bill,

    Who is a stranger to God/Jesus? He knows each of us…whether we are “children of the devil” or his very own. He is rightous when he judges. What man can say that?

    God says that we are created in HIS own image. How can WE walk around and call someone ELSE a child of the devil? Who are WE to judge? God only knows the heart of man…that gives HIM the right to label…if you will.

    I think that you are missing the point. If JESUS says someone is unrighteous…HE knows it. Where is an instance in the Bible that He gave this “judgment right” to ANYONE in the Bible. As a matter ‘o fact…doesn’t the Bible say…Judge not lest you be judged.

    Prophets of old would “call someone out” you might say. But I believe that was given to them under the authority of God Himself. Are you sure that YOU are hearing this from God…to call others “children of the devil”. I think that it would be safer for all of us to do as Jesus TAUGHT…(which is to love) than to act as if we are Him.

    I don’t think that I , or anyone else will convince you to change your mind on this. It sounds as though you feel very strongly about this. But, if I might…I would like to encourage you to hold the words of Paul in you heart. That you would not tear down, that you would speak in love to build up, and to not nullify Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, by your words or actions.

    I feel this is wise counsel to all. We all should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and let GOD be God.

    Best to you all.
    Bobbie

  14. Hello everyone,

    Jesus approached people in many different ways. I’ve never said otherwise. I don’t know of any exception to the rule that He opposed the proud, and gave grace to the humble. He spoke with many humble people, and He offered them grace. He spoke with many proud people and opposed them. That is all I’m advocating. Mischaracterizing what I believe (while I’m sure is unintentional) doesn’t get us very far in this conversation.

    Generally, if your position leaves you unable to explain certain verses or answer certain questions, you know it’s not true. It seems obvious to me at this point that none of you can answer the questions I’ve asked, so I will give you the answers. You shouldn’t take my word for anything, but search the Scriptures and make sure you die to whatever belief you hold and follow Jesus no matter what it costs.

    1. Was Jesus being unloving when He called people children of the devil? No

    2. Don’t you think that was the most loving thing He could have done for them? Yes. He wasn’t trying to win popularity contests. He was declaring the truth. No one can get saved unless the Father draws them (John 6:44). The Father does not draw people to likable Christians, but by being convicted of sin (John 16:8) and recognizing the kindness of God (Romans 2:4).

    3. Do you really want to be like Jesus? If you say you do, that means you must do the things Jesus did (John 14:12), and obey His commands (John 14:15).

    4. Why shouldn’t we (when appropriate) explain to someone that they are children of the devil? Repeatedly insisting that I think we should call everyone children of the devil is not helpful to the discussion. All I’m saying is that if there were times when Jesus found proud, religious people to confront with the truth, don’t you think that theoretically somewhere out there in the course of a lifetime, you might just run into someone and end up in a conversation where it might be appropriate to do as our Lord did? If the situation is appropriate, we should definitely do what Jesus did and name names and rebuke people and boldly correct people’s incorrect beliefs, as the Bible shows and commands us to do.

    These are simple questions with simple, obvious answers. Figure out what the Bible says, and then do it.

    That’s really all I have to say. I won’t bother you with pesky Bible verses anymore. Thanks for the conversation.

    Bill

    • Bill,
      It looks like you are finished as you “won’t bother us with pesky Bible verses anymore.” As for answering your questions–some of us have to step away from our computers from time to time–please be more patient with us. I did attempt to answer your first question. Please reread the threads of your posts. I’m relieved that you could say that Jesus didn’t approach everyone this way. I hope from that you may denigrate fewer than before.
      As for naming names and rebuking people who are convinced they are far from God’s kingdom, I’m not sure you have explained anything from the Scriptures to convince any of us about it. So I will leave this kind of rebuking to you. I have had to conduct many instances of church discipline and rebukes are not just thrown around like candy at a parade.
      I will hope that those with whom you speak will eventually find the eternal kingdom of God, by the grace of God.
      Holding onto grace,
      Jeff

  15. Ok Bill,
    You’ve now sufficiently patronized us to make this an unhelpful discussion. We all have referenced the “pesky” scriptures that you mentioned and we have tried to explain why we do not accept your interpretation of them. Your insistence that you and only you have the authoritative understanding of those passages is the very hubris and pride that we’ve been talking about as antithetical to the heart of God and the very thing that caused Jesus to call those kinds of so called followers of God, the ever popular “children of the devil.” To claim that we simple minded folk could not answer your 4 simple questions only belies your unwillingness to listen to the case we are making and see in it the answers to your questions though we did not answer them directly. Frankly, however, your questions, if answered directly and as simply as you would like, only serve to muddy the issue because they are of the same kind of construction as “did you stop beating your wife?” If one answers yes then it is a tacit admission that one had in fact been beating his wife. If one answers no then then it is a tacit admission that one is in fact beating his wife.” I will not accept your terms and framing of the argument. Which brings me to another problem. You engage in a type of equivocation in which you start talking about one thing and then claim to be talking about something else. This discussion was begun when Lisa spoke of evangelizing non-believers. You claimed that non-believers were characterized by Jesus as Children of the Devil and Children of wrath. Both of these “pesky” scriptures were addressed with utmost seriousness and sincerity and have been established to be speaking about so called followers who were not representing the truth and not about the not-yet followers or believers. From that point forward you seem to want it both ways, now you claim that it is about the proud and the humble and not about the believer or unbeliever and you argue that Jesus dealt with proud non-believers with this kind of disdain and strong language. However, the scriptures you cited clearly do not support that contention.

    You are not dealing here with people unfamiliar with the scriptures or the tradition from which you apparently come. Nor are we people who take our faith lightly or who are trying to make God in our own image. We, as I have said before, are endeavoring to pattern our lives after Jesus’ life just as I believe you are. I sense in your responses though that you are under the impression that we are compromising and obscuring the truth and you are taking it upon yourself to help us see the light. But, if, and this is a huge IF, you are right and we are wrong then your vague accusations and snide jabs run counter to the case you are trying to make, i.e that Jesus was blunt and direct. Why do you not simply call us what I suspect you believe we are, “children of the devil?” Why extend us any grace since as your last post seems to imply we are simply unrepentent pragamatists who are more concerned with popularity and being liked than we are with the truth of the gospel?