As Christians, we become quite skilled at seeing the evil and sin around us. And in many ways, remaining vigilant about evil is part of the Christian life. There is a very real and dark power at work in our world.
But that isn’t what we’re calling out most often.
Instead, we become hyper focused on people around us who don’t adhere to the righteous standards of living described in scripture. And the real trouble begins when we channel this hyper focused concern towards non-Christians.
Once we become one with Christ, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the darkness in our world and in our lives. We can see it in ways we never could before. What was once an acceptable way of life becomes undesirable.
This change in our understanding of the world, of right and wrong, of acceptable and unacceptable, and of meaning itself isn’t because we arrived at an epiphany of our own great wisdom. Our eyes are only open because Jesus opened them. He showed us the true way of life that we were created to live. Once you could not see, and then you could. This is part of the transformative work that takes place at salvation.
But as we become accustomed to this new way of viewing the world, we tend to act as if it’s what we’ve always known. So we place that expectation on the non-believers around us, as if they should live according to the same standards we do.
This harmful way of thinking fully manifests itself when we care more about correcting the lost than we care about their souls being saved. We would rather mourn over the way they’re sending the world to hell in a hand basket rather than the very real fact that their souls will be lost forever.
We must have a greater concern and urgency for the souls of the lost and spend less time finding ways to correct them.
Here are three reasons why we need to focus less on the morality of non-Christians.
1. It Isn’t Your Role To Judge Non-Believers.
I’m not sure at what point Christians began to assume the role of judge over the lost. While the bible does have a bit to say on confronting the sin in the life of fellow believers, it doesn’t talk about taking up the charge to correct the sin nature of non-believers.
In fact, Paul says the opposite.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)
In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he addresses a sexually immorality issue that was happening among the congregation. He even clarifies a previous letter that he wrote regarding members of the church disassociating with sexually immoral people.
However, he wasn’t referring to the sexually immoral of the world but within the church. He almost laughs about it and says if he meant for you to disassociate from the sinners of the world, then you would have to exit the world itself. Because of course, non-believers are actively living in sin. In what other way would they live?
In verses 12-13, Paul goes on to say Christians are to have nothing to do with judging non-believers or outsiders. Their role is to be concerned with the behavior or misbehavior of those within the church. It’s believers who should hold one another accountable, because we should all be operating by the same code as each other.
There will be judgment for non-believers. But it will not come from the church. Non-believers will be held accountable to God. He’s the one who will judge them for their sin. This is not the role of the church and it never has been.
2. It Isn’t Your Role To Curse the Lost.
I think this has become even more acceptable than even just a few years ago, but believers are alarmingly comfortable with speaking downright offensively about the decisions and actions of the lost.
We see it most clearly when it comes to speaking about political issues and those who support views that oppose your own. But even in our anger, frustration, or fear we should refrain from speaking ill of or cursing those who do not know Jesus.
One of the greatest reasons we should refrain from this is because, whether or not the person you speak ill of is a Christian, they are still a person made in the image and likeness of God.
James instructs us about the power of our tongues, as well as their danger.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10)
As believers, we’re called to a higher standard of living. Yet we often praise God in one breath and curse fellow humans in the next. As James says, this should not be. We must cast off our old self and seek the strength of the Spirit to help us refrain from letting our tongues run wild.
We do a great amount of damage when non-believers see us claim to be servants of the God who loved people so much that he died for them, but we don’t even show them basic human decency. We must be people who become more like Jesus and actually love others, even when they are being foolish and immoral.Believers are alarmingly comfortable with speaking downright offensively about the decisions and actions of the lost. Click To Tweet
3. Our Role Is To Care About the Souls of the Lost.
We have never been called to judge or speak ill of the lost. We’re actually called to care about their souls. Through our love for them, we’re meant to point them to the light of Jesus. The bible has a lot to say about how we ought to deal with one another within the church. And that’s different from how we ought to deal with those outside of the church.
In the same way that God sent Paul on a mission to shine his light on those who were lost, he’s calling us too.
I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17-18)
Our most central role among the lost is to point them to Jesus. We are to love them and be concerned about the fact that they will be lost for eternity. Our hearts should ache and weep for the lost. Our energies, efforts, and passions should be focused on the lost being found.
At the end of the day, we already know who wins—Jesus. When he returns, the worldly standards that we’re so concerned about will be fully rectified, but the souls who are lost will forever be lost.
God gives us the privilege to be part of his kingdom work to draw souls to himself and transform lives. This is the greatest battle we will fight and the greatest investment we will make.
The condition and actions of a world left in the hands of non-believers is concerning. But we know God will set these things right. He hasn’t called us to fret in this manner. Instead, he has called us to be concerned about the lost souls who are perishing.
This is our mission. This is what we are called to. Whenever we find ourselves slipping into viewing non-believers as the enemy, we must try to remember that they are the mission. To push ourselves away from lost souls is to push ourselves away from the mission of God.The lost are the mission. To push ourselves away from them is to push away from the mission of God. Click To Tweet
MORE RESOURCES TO CHECK OUT
If you found this article helpful, these books might be useful resources to you.
- Practicing Christian Compassion: 50 Devotions to Embody God’s Grace in Your Daily Life by Dale and Tamara Chamberlain
- Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did by Randy Newman
- Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler