Meeting you where you are....

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Meeting you where you are....

Postby Stacie Cook » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:24 pm

Question I have been asking myself recently....
As Christians, are we called to meet people where they are at? Or where they should be?

Where does God meet us?


As we mature in faith, we grow in ways and shed our old skin and habits to some extent. We start to eat meat and drink less milk, so to speak. Sometimes, the longer we eat meat, the less we are able to relate to milk drinkers. We forget what it was like to drink milk and we may expect non-believers (to some extent) to become believers that eat meat right away.

Example- before accept Christ as my Savior, part of my journey involved what I call the 'Oprah' religion. I recall she had some 'spiritual' people on her show here and there. I ended up buying a book from one of them and reading it. It spoke to me because I was looking for answers, although I don't know that I knew that at the time. Fast forward years later after I had received Jesus as my Savior. Looking back, I would not recommend that book to someone to read. I would consider it a false religion full of 'love yourself and no one else' stuff. However, in my journey, it helped point me to Jesus.
So, as Christians, when helping direct people toward Jesus, do we meet them in the moments they are in? Or do we guide them away from what they are in first? I would think the former, but the danger I see is in 'condoning' whatever it is that they are in at the moment. Is this making any sense?
For example: You know a couple that lives together. You believe it is wrong that people live together before marriage. They start attending church with you or have discussions with you regarding faith and God and Jesus. Where is the pont in which you all discuss them living together?
I'm sure it depends on the relationship you have with them. Personalities (yours and theirs) likely play a role. But how do you have a relationship with them and meet them where they are without 'condoning' so to speak their lifestyle? I suppose praying to God to guide them toward right understanding would be a good place to start :D

God meets us where we are. He does not wait til we are 'presentable enough' for Him. He does not wait til we are walking a straight line. So... I think I have answered my question, but just curious to hear your thoughts.
If you want to meet God... then the cross is the place to which you go. - Alistair Begg
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:38 pm

God meets us where we are at conditionally. The condition is that this is a good thing. For it to be a good thing we need to have some understanding of where we are at in relationship to Him -- we have to sense the difference between where we are and where we need to be. This is the whole point of Christ on the cross. When we understand that our sin destroys the innocent and murders those who would seek to help us, that is when God can come to where we are and hold out his hand. Otherwise it is just an arrogant attempt to drag God down into our evil and expect Him to twist reality and goodness to suit our own childish desires.

Frankly, I think magical Western Christianity has done a real number on this to turn it all inside out and backwards. Making it a literal penal substitution (as if getting an innocent person to pay for our crimes really could make us innocent) seems to me more like dragging God down into the mire to serve inconsistent childish demands.
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby Stacie Cook » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:58 pm

Just realized I left my last sentence out....

How do we, as Christians, meet people where they are, but also lead them out of their sin eventually....
If you want to meet God... then the cross is the place to which you go. - Alistair Begg
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:36 pm

Stacie Cook wrote:Just realized I left my last sentence out....

How do we, as Christians, meet people where they are, but also lead them out of their sin eventually....


That is a little presumptuous. How can you even know where they are at? Can you lift yourself up to where they are?

I think you have to let God do the "meeting people where they are at" and not imagine that you can be anything other than who you are. Jesus already told us our part of this is to refrain from judgement. Know that you cannot judge adequately or correctly -- except for yourself. You certainly should judge whether what they do, believe, or feel is going to work for you. Hold in mind that respect is mutual. If you refrain from judgement then you have the right to expect the same from them to some degree. At the very least, don't let there judgement of you be a guide to replace your own standards.

Then with that mind, you can follow Jesus direction in Matthew 25 to serve those in need -- knowing that just because they are in need doesn't mean you are better than they are.
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby Aaron » Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:22 am

Hi Stacie,

Good topic. I think we can relax a little bit as Christians about what other people are doing. I think we have a responsibility to make sure we're living correctly. I think we have a responsibility to pray for non-Christians. And I think we have a responsibility to tell non-Christians the truth, that sin is real, that they are sinners, that sin means death for us and that God loves us and has made a way to save us from our sin. But I think we can relax a little too, God knows where they're at, he doesn't need our help to make saving them possible.
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby Stacie Cook » Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:50 am

Yes, I don't mean to imply that I am any better at 'not sinning' and that they would need to 'get better' at not sinning.
I think really what I am trying to get at is that God meets us where we are at and that we need to do the same for others that may be seeking us for guidance. Meet them where they are and help guide them on their journey as they seek us for guidance. As you said Aaron, God doesn't need our help to save someone. Let our light shine before others so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby fauxaviator » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:03 pm

Good point from Aaron. I would like to add something on the flip-side. If our brother or sister in Christ is in perpetual sin, we must let them know we are aware of it. We cannot stand by and let them continue down a destructive path. This means lovingly bringing to their attention that we know. We do not speak our own words, though. We let God's word speak for us. All we are doing is bringing it to their attention.

If they agree with us, we offer to pray with them. If they disagree, we may have a problem. It may be helpful to confess your own sin first. You may want to say something like, "hey, Stacie, I have a confession. I haven't been true to God. I have been lying to my wife so I can get few extra hours to myself with my buddies. Will you pray with me? Is there something you would like to confess to God today?"

I believe taking this approach will help us walk the path God wants us to walk down.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby Stacie Cook » Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:42 pm

Good point. I agree.
If you want to meet God... then the cross is the place to which you go. - Alistair Begg
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby mitchellmckain » Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:07 pm

Aaron wrote:Hi Stacie,

Good topic. I think we can relax a little bit as Christians about what other people are doing. I think we have a responsibility to make sure we're living correctly. I think we have a responsibility to pray for non-Christians. And I think we have a responsibility to tell non-Christians the truth, that sin is real, that they are sinners, that sin means death for us and that God loves us and has made a way to save us from our sin. But I think we can relax a little too, God knows where they're at, he doesn't need our help to make saving them possible.


I very much disagree. I not only don't think we should tell people they are sinners but we really can't. That is something they have to discover for themselves or it has no meaning.

What you can do it tell them your own story. You can tell them how you discovered that you are a sinner -- what that means in your case and why you wanted so much to change. Then you can leave it up to them whether they can see the same things or something similar in themselves.

However, that is only a general rule recognizing we really aren't capable of judging other people in this way. Of course, if God is directing you to convict someone of their sins, then that is different. Be aware, however, there is no guarantee the result is going to be remotely pretty. If you make a complete fool of yourself then you have to have faith it serves God's purpose in some way. The key difference here is that in following God's direction you still know it really isn't your place to make judgements.
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby Aaron » Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:34 pm

mitchellmckain wrote:I very much disagree. I not only don't think we should tell people they are sinners but we really can't. That is something they have to discover for themselves or it has no meaning.

Yes, I think the realization that one is a sinner happens with the Holy Spirit intervening. See below for my continued response.

Mitch wrote:What you can do it tell them your own story. You can tell them how you discovered that you are a sinner -- what that means in your case and why you wanted so much to change.

I think this is a fantastic approach, in general I think it is the best one in fact and it is what I usually find myself doing when sharing the gospel with others. See below for my continued response.

Mitch wrote:Then you can leave it up to them whether they can see the same things or something similar in themselves.

Agreed, this is all we can ever do. Except to continue to pray for them and to live genuinely the faith we proclaim, because Jesus is genuine and has genuinely changed our hearts. See below for my continued response.

Mitch wrote:However, that is only a general rule recognizing we really aren't capable of judging other people in this way. Of course, if God is directing you to convict someone of their sins, then that is different. Be aware, however, there is no guarantee the result is going to be remotely pretty. If you make a complete fool of yourself then you have to have faith it serves God's purpose in some way. The key difference here is that in following God's direction you still know it really isn't your place to make judgements.

Agreed, we should not make judgements based on our own righteousness so that our end is to cast judgement, there is no place for that for those who've been saved by grace. Agreed, we should always operate under the leading of the Holy Spirit, maybe it is to publicly preach the gospel, befriend someone, serve, love, teach, share (money, life experience, personal failures and successes, time, advice, etc.), or any infinite amount of things that God might have us do.

So I am in agreement that conviction of sin is something that happens between the Holy Spirit and the person. I am in agreement that we should always only follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, that includes sharing the gospel with others and so this would condition the responsibility I think we have of telling people they are sinners which comes out of and is part of the responsibility I think we have to share the gospel. I would further describe/condition/illuminate this responsibility to share the gospel with the line from Paul to Timothy: "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Basically as usual I find myself in near agreement with Mitch the contrarian.
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else" - C.S. Lewis
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Re: Meeting you where you are....

Postby Chapabel » Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:32 pm

I believe we need to meet people exactly where they are and show them the love of Christ. It is not our responsibility, however, to change anyone. That's God's job. He is the One who brings conviction of sin. He changes hearts and lives. Not us. God has commissioned us to be fishers of men. If we catch them, He will clean them.
To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men. -- A.W. Tozer
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