9-15-2018 The Little Lost Child, Revisited
Lack of God’s love Love of Christ thriving in our hearts
On July 8, 2017, the blog entry was titled “Little Lost Child.” It talked about how the orphan spirit comes into lives of people, how we can recognize it and what can be done about it. The orphan enters in through trauma in our lives but an orphan spirit can thrive in church people through lack of love.
I’m aware of many people who do “street evangelism”. I encountered a ministry, in Hagerstown, several years ago that would minister to people in music and the word or bring in guest speakers to minister the word. They would meet once a month in a local building. Now, this ministry clearly stated that they were not a church. So, I met with the leaders and asked “what do you do with the souls who commit to Jesus during one of your gatherings.” Their response was that they were connected to multiple local churches in the area and they would connect those souls with one of those churches. I’m good with that. Now this same ministry has since discontinued those monthly gatherings and focused on helping the community with various community services which they had also been doing.
Well, this past year and more than once, I got to thinking about the ‘street ministries’ with which I was familiar. I had never talked with the people involved before about what they would do should someone receive Christ through their ministry. I don’t encounter these people on a regular basis. You know the syndrome – when they are around, I don’t think about it and when I do think about it, they aren’t around. Oh well.
Yet the question still remains what do they do with the souls who commit to Christ during their ministering. One of my brothers from church, however, did have the opportunity and did ask (he told me much later when we were talking). He was told “Not my problem. I get ‘em saved then they have to work their own salvation out for themselves.” When Paul wrote those words to the Philippians, that’s not quite what he meant (Phil. 2:12). He said to work it out with fear and trembling. That is, as we walk closer with the Lord, we recognize who He is, who we are and do our best to abide in His will. Just how much of us will we yield to Him? We just don’t go out there and make willy nilly decisions about how we should live. Hopefully we read the bible and we may need guidance and direction from others until we’re able to get a handle as to what our own relationship with the Lord should be.
Work out their own salvation? Hooooonk!!! Wrong answer. Jesus didn’t tell us to just go out there and get people saved, He told us to go out and teach all nations (Matt. 28:19). Teach them what? Who God is, about His kingdom and how we should live in accordance to His word and His will. Paul tells Timothy to share what he has received with other faithful men so they might be able to go and share with others (2 Tim. 2:2). In other words, we are to help people understand the relationship they just entered into with Jesus. Why? So when they’ve become mature, can go out and help other people.
You don’t learn relationships in one two encounters. When we meet somebody, we don’t suddenly know all about them. It takes time to develop that relationship with another person. And so it is when we let Jesus into our lives. We don’t know all that there is to now about our relationship with Him. All we know for sure is that He opened the door to eternal life for us. We spend the rest of our lives learning to live with Him, in Him and for Him.
So just what did Jesus do?
As He was walking by the sea Jesus saw Andrew and Simon (Peter) and said to them “Come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). Later, He saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee and called them (Mark 1:19-20). He saw Matthew collecting taxes from the people and said “Follow Me” (Matt. 9:9). Jesus called seven others and walked with them and other disciples for about three and a half years teaching them about the kingdom of God, explaining the principles of living for God and showing them the relationship they should have with others, as He developed His relationship with disciples. When Jesus fed the 4000, they had been with Him for three days listening to His teaching (Matt. 15:30-39). Three days! Not just an hour or an hour and a half, three days.
Paul didn’t just go into a town and get people saved and then go on his way. He spent months and sometime years in an area establishing souls and a leadership core so the church could survive after he left them. And, by the way, that’s exactly what Jesus was doing with His apostles. Training them to carry on the work of building disciples after His ascension.
Coming back from Arabia, Paul spent three years in Damascus (Gal.1:17-18), a year in Antioch (Acts 11:26, Acts 14:26-28), Thessalonica for three Sabbath days (three weeks)(Acts 17:2) and Corinth for three and a half years (Acts 18:1-11). My point is Paul didn’t just duck in for the weekend then leave. “You need to get saved. Praise the Lord, see you later!” He stayed for a while. What was He doing? Well, Titus was under instruction to set the church in order and he ordained elders in the church (Titus 1:5). They weren’t just getting people saved and then just sitting around and singing Halelujah. Not that praise isn’t good and necessary, but there was also work to be done. The church needs a leadership core to survive. A core that can grow and train others. When Paul wrote Timothy he urged him to continue in the things he has learned and noting from whom he has learned them (1 Tim. 3:13-17). That is, don’t listen to anyone who was preaching something else.
The point is? We don’t just get people ‘saved’. If we aren’t mature enough to help them grow, find someone who is so that the new Christian is not left to his own devices. Lack of knowledge makes us prime targets for the enemy to undermine. There are ravening wolves out there just waiting to pounce upon and discourage new and impressionable Christians (Matt. 7:15).
My question now, is just how many soul winners, how many churches make a pointed effort to ground a new soul in God’s word? How many of us not only take the time to welcome a new soul into the faith but also take time to encourage them, or even make sure, that they continue coming to church or get into studying the word (bible) for themselves? How many of us will take time to see that those “babes in Christ” get into a proper Sunday School class? How many of us take time just to be a friend to that new convert and share our experiences with Jesus as an encouragement for him to take those first steps, then press on?
When I was a young Christian, I thought everything was supposed to be peaches and cream. I thought all my troubles were over. Hooooonk! Satan doesn’t like or even want us to get close to God. If he had his way, we wouldn’t get anywhere near our Lord so once we make that commitment, or even look like we’re going to receive Jesus into our lives, the devil does everything within his power to discourage us. He wants as much company as possible in that lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
But as we grow, we realize we don’t have to fight the battle. We take Jesus’ yoke (Matt. 11:29-30) and God fights the battle for us (Exod. 14:13-14). Remember Gideon (Judges 7:1-9)? God kept cutting his army down to where an obedient handful of men set the enemy to flight without drawing a sword. All Gideon and his 300 men did was break the pitchers which contained lit candles and blew trumpets and the Midianite army drew their swords against each other and fled (Judges 7:19-22). . Moses was God’s representative to Israel when they fought with Amalek. When Moses hands were raised, Israel prevailed, when his hands dropped, Amalek prevailed. In the end, Israel won by the hand of God (Exod. 17:9-13) because Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands up when he got tired. God may use us to accomplish His will, but it is still He who wins the battle for I can do nothing of myself (John 15:5) but through Christ Jesus I can do all things (Phil. 4:11-13)!
We’ve seen how Jesus and the apostles shepherded new converts and some examples of how God brings us victory. But, can the church produce orphans? Of Course. When we were children, I knew a man whose dad was in the house but that dad was an alcoholic. Even today, though one who is driven by substance abuse may be in the home, they are of little or no use to the family because they live for their addiction. Christians who d nothing the help others grow are like the addict. Even today, all too often, the church neglects its responsibility in shepherding new Christians. For whatever the reason, and that new Christian doesn’t receive the guidance they need. So even in the church, they become an orphan, lacking proper ‘parental’ guidance.
And we may wonder why the church has strayed from its original foundation. Yes, all the “Christian” churches profess Jesus, but not all live for Him. Yes, many churches have many awesome programs for their people, but all too often, the new Christian decides whether he participates or not. As I said, many of those programs are good, but do they really disciple? Jesus reminds us that His brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 8:19-21). No, we can’t force people to do things, but when we take time to get to know them. When we take time to be a friend or even a mentor, we can surely encourage them to get involved not only in the church, but growing in their own lives and living for Jesus Christ.
How many of our churches have orphans, those not properly taught the will or the word of God? Even though many young Christians attend church, how many of our churches have left them to their own devices to ‘work out their own salvation’?
The person who wrestles with an orphan spirit wrestles within himself. Others can give them direction in finding God’s love so the orphan spirit can be pushed out but the orphan does have to make the choices. The orphan spirit is driven out only when the love of God gives that person a sense of worth, responsibility and direction and that soul finds fulfillment in loving God.
An orphan is one who has not received love nor proper nourishment. God’s love heals the orphan. But it is up to mature Christians to express that love and nurture the young so they can grow to be strong.
Can the body of Christ have orphans? Yes, when the church fails in its responsibility to nourish and give direction to those young souls. When they are left to their own devices.
Let the love of God reign in our hearts so the world can see that love in us and others will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ (John 13:35).