So I had an interesting conversation with a guy who has spent nearly 15 years of his life, off and on, in a homeless shelter. Aside from struggling with substance abuse, he has served some jail time and was in a place where he says he felt as if he had nothing. No feelings, no future, no hope and no motivation to climb out of where he was. He was numb. He begin to tell me that “the system” made him this way. Between jail and shelters, he feels that those things stole his hope and made him dependent on the system he was a part of.
He told me how we are just like the frog in a pot of boiling water; we don’t even know it when we have burnt up and died. I agree with him, we don’t see our lives heading towards death and despair, things happen and we finally realize where we are, but its too late. Or is it?
My new friend began to tell me about the good things in his life now. He knows Christ, he is going back to school and hopes to have his own house by summer from the money he has been saving. So for him, I don’t think it was too late. What else are we to feel when we are without Christ, other than hopeless and alone? Yet, now that Christ is working in his life and repairing his heart, the darkness that was there is fading. Christ, who is the light that has never known darkness comes into our hearts and invades the deep, dark corners that we rarely talk about or share with anyone. It was encouraging to see this happening in his heart.
Going back to the system, even now he feels that he needs to get away from the shelter and try to associate with what he called, “positive influences”. He feels cynical about the system that he feels only perpetuated his place in life. He feels sorry for the guys that are where he was. He does not claim perfection now, but he feels the progress God is making in his life.
While he was talking to me and even after we prayed, I couldn’t stop thinking about who then will show the other guys that they are in the pot of water as it boils? How do any of us come to a realization of our place before God? Can I truly come and relate with those guys enough to show them the way out? Maybe…but Jesus himself did not distance himself from the tax collector and sinner. He walked with them, ate and drank with them and shared his life with them. And now through the Holy Spirit we are convicted in our hearts, brought to our knees before He that spoke all into existence and made into His image.
We have a part to play in the salvation and growth of a person in Christ, but we do not do the hard work, God does. Does your heart break for those friends, family or people in your life that are lost? Stop trying to do all the work and just love them as life moves along. God is doing the unseen work in their hearts and sometimes we get to see that happen, but ultimately we are called to love.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 13-21