I would like us to look at something today that I believe some children of God may have forgotten, and although that might not be altogether a bad thing, we must remember who we once were, who the person was that you knew within yourself before Christ, for the majority of this letter to you will be about those that are still there and our responsibility to them. I am concerned that this may be a difficult subject for those that came to Christ at a young age, for those that from their youth have sought His face and His desires for their life. Like some of those that seek out another with a need that they have, unless that person that they are speaking to has also known that particular need, has been in the same predicament or circumstances, though not always of course, the words of the one that they are seeking assistance from can seem rather hollow. Unless you have been there and experienced it, there is no mutual basis for the conversation, you cannot just look into a pit and tell the man down in it what it is like down there.
I believe this is why the Lord waits, as it were, to call some of us to Himself at a later age than others, not so that we can experience the “pleasures of sin for a season,” (Heb. 11:25) before we are commanded to obey, for we must always remember that time in the service of the Lord is not always an indicator of maturity, nor is the age of an individual representative of the wisdom that Christ has imparted to a man. This waiting period, if you will, is so that we can experience first hand the futility of a life spent without Christ, apart from His wonderful grace and mercy, so that when He has shown us the truth that has set us free, (John 8:32) we can go to where the lost are, exactly where they are, and be of greater help to them for we were once there also.
I realize that there are those who will disagree with this ideology, for the truth is in the Word of God, to which I wholeheartedly agree, but please remember, it is the lost that we are referring to, and for them it is easier to grab hold of a hand that they can see, than one they cannot. The vast majority of these individuals will not listen to someone who has nothing but Scripture verses for them, for their mind is still blinded, but an open door of conversation is enabled to us when we can honestly say to them “I have been there, and I know the way out.” Would you seek advice from an overweight person on how to lose weight, would enter into a tavern and ask those seated at the bar how to stop drinking, would you seek an answer for a parable from those who have not been given the wisdom to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. (Luke 8:10) The lost seek those of like minds when they have a need, Christians do not seek for pearls among swine, and so it is our past that can many times be the key to opening the Word of God to those who are hurting as we once did, who are seeking the truth that we have been shown and accepted in faith.
Our Lord graciously allows many of us to go through the valleys and pitfalls of this world before He calls us to Himself so that we can help those in the world, for it is very different to go through these valleys without the knowledge that Christ is with us, but I am concerned that too many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have forgotten what is was like to be ‘back there,’ and instead have not only turned a blind eye towards the lost, but have begun to look at them in almost a demeaning way. They may visit the prisoner in jail, (Matt. 25:36) or at the least think about it, but not give a second thought to the one being held captive by the world and the wiles of Satan just across the street from them. It is a sin to have bread and plenty to spare and not give to the one in need.
The lost are to be pitied, and rightly so, for we know their end if they remain in this state, if they die in their sins, but that is as far as the thoughts of some believers go in this day and age. “I’m hungry,” they say, “Sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you,” is the standard response far too many times. I am not sure that enough Christians understand that the lost have absolutely no concept of what the word ‘love’ means, that in all of its varied uses that they attach to it, for the most part, are nothing more than an emotional response to those around them and their own thoughts. Many of our fellow believers do not fully understand themselves that when we read in Matthew 24:12 that “the love of many will wax cold,” that the word is not speaking of the lost here, but of Gods own children. Their love is waxing cold not only for their Lord, but for the lost, they have forgotten where they were before Christ, and so have forgotten the needs of the lost, the same needs they once had. They are hiding the light within themselves, instead of sharing it with the lost.
Perhaps it is because there seems to be so many of them today, one can empty their entire wallet in just a two block walk down most of the major cities of the world today, handing help in the form of money to those who hold cardboard signs printed with words of needs and sorrows. Every newscast speaks of turmoil, strife, blatant sin and unrighteousness, while every commercial informs us that if we purchase their product life will have greater meaning. The love of many is waxing cold because of callousness, because of the constant barrage of sin in the world upon us, and the hearts of stone that many believers once had is becoming hardened again because of these things. The overbearing burden of iniquity around the globe has caused many to forget that we are to reach them one at a time with patience and love.
Though the name has not changed on the outside, the Central Community Church is now the Central Community Clubhouse, an organization devoted only to those within its doors, the Bible study group in many congregations is nothing more than a Bible reading session, feel better about yourself for about an hour, and then head back home. The love of many believers is waxing cold, the heathen are raging, (Psalm 2:1) and we have stopped our ears from hearing. There is a very good reason why the lost see the “religious crowd” as better in their own eyes than they themselves are, as self-righteous, it is because some of those that they meet act that way. Instead of stopping to help them see the light, they inform them that they are in the dark, and then walk away, they let them know that they are in a pit but toss them no rope of hope. At best they will invite them to church, forgetting the one who so long ago took the time to speak with them, the patience of the individual who knew not if they were speaking to one whom God had chosen to enter into His kingdom, knowing only that they had a responsibility to obey Christs commandment to seek the lost. (Mark 16:15)
My friends, we are trying to serve people who will mock us, make jokes about us behind our backs, even try to imprison and kill some of us, it is no wonder so many Christians are afraid of the work that has been set before us. Instead of calling them ‘heathens,’ today we call them ‘the lost,’ a fool in the Scriptures is one who orders their life as if there were no God, to these we are sent, and for these our hearts are to break each and every day, for we know their end. They have ordered their lives on that day’s desires with no forethought to eternity whatsoever, and though our Lord has put eternity into their hearts, (Eccl. 3:11) they are either blinded by Satan, (2nd Cor. 4:4) or of their own accord, the invisible things of the world they have refused to see, (Rom. 1:20) and many of us have forgotten that we were just like them once.
The fascinating thing is that those who have forgotten, those who will not spend the time or take the effort to talk to the lost are more afraid of them than they are of our Lord, they are more concerned with what those lost souls will think of them instead of what Christ thinks of them for not obeying His commandment to go into all the world. If you are at this time one of these individuals, sooner or later you are going to have to admit the truth to yourself that you are seeking the praise of men instead of the things of God. (John 12:43) The excuses that you have in mind to tell our Savior on the day that you will stand before Him will hold no water, will have no merit, for He will say to you “Why didn’t you at least just tell them that I loved them.”
An ambassador for Christ is not sent away from His presence to do the work that He has set before them with a “Good luck, hope everything goes well,” they will not learn all that they need to know from a short sermon each week, he is give an instruction manual, commanded to study it, given the knowledge to understand it, and even a helper to dwell within him, the Holy Spirit of God Himself. There will be no excuses on that day my friends, we will all give an account, (Rom. 14:12) and it is sad to say but there will be rivers of tears from those who knew but did not do. Your excuses will fall on deaf ears, you will feel a shame you never knew before, the grand-fatherly type of God you envisioned, the one you thought would say “Oh, that’s alright, don’t worry about it,” will be replaced with a righteous Lord, and though He loves you deeply, you will reap only what you have sowed, good intentions produce no fruit. Your treasure will be small, and your rewards few, if any.
If these statements do not convict you, I do not know what will. You do not need to pray for a heart that desires to reach the lost, it is already in you, you have just been pushing it into the background because of unwarranted fears, because of your reputation, your name, your job, because you fear the reproaches of man more than the commandments of God. Look at 1st Peter 4:3 and see what a sorrowful, sinful group the lost are, and then think back, how many of these words describe who you once were, one, three, all of them? Do you really want to leave those who were like you where they are, are you willing to look into the lake of fire ten-thousand years from now and see the face of one that you knew for so long here on earth and realize, again, that you did not speak to him. It is not your fault that he is there, you will know that for a fact, for we are all accountable for the consequences of our decisions. But turn and look now at the one who spoke to you all those years ago, the one that crawled down into that pit with you and not only showed you the pinprick of light above you, but told you of the one who could bring you out of the darkness and into the light of His glorious presence.
They are called the lost for a reason my friends, it is because that is what they are, lost, our job is to go and tell them that the Shepherd is looking for them, and then lead them to Him, let Him take it from there.