Yesterday, a friend of mine and I went out for an hour on a prayer walk to the mosques around town. Ramadan has now started, so while we are routinely praying for the Muslims in our city, we wanted to make sure to go out “on location” to pray and ask God to move amongst these precious people who don’t know Jesus.
There is a Senegalese mosque where we have, over the last few years, managed to meet several interesting people while prayer walking, and yesterday ended up being similar. Just as we arrived and began to pray, a man walked up to us and started asking us if we wanted to buy some marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. “Whatever you want, I can get it for you,” he said. He was completely serious, and I believed him.
However, I explained that we were just here to pray. He didn’t understand. Pray? What are you talking about?
I asked him if he knew who was behind the door where we were standing. And he did. He said that he knew that it was a “church” for the Muslims. OK, close enough… 😉
So I just explained that this was a time for us to come and pray for these people that didn’t know Jesus.
Our new friend then went on to explain that he had a family that he was trying to support, that he had no money, and he was just trying to find a way to be with them. Then he said something that I have heard several times from several different people over the last few days and weeks.
Look, I have to tell you, I am lost.
Let me stop here for a moment. I have actually always hated – it even makes me cringe – when, in the church, we talk about people who don’t know Christ and we call them, “The Lost”. Of course, I understand what that means. Even Jesus said that he came to seek and save the lost. He also talked about leaving the 99 sheep to go find the 1 lost sheep and bring it back. So, I get it. I understand the term and I’m not saying that it is wrong or incorrect to use it. But if I’m being honest, I’ve just never liked it. For whatever reason, I just didn’t like applying that label to someone – especially to someone, or a whole group of people that I don’t know.
Anyway, back to the story.
So we stood there for a few minutes talking, and once our new friend came around to the realization that we weren’t going to buy any drugs from him, he asked if there was any way that we would consider buying him lunch. “Sure, of course,” I said. “Come on over to our place and we will go eat together.” He couldn’t believe it. First, we said Yes, and second, that we wanted to eat lunch with him?
So that’s what we did. He came over to our center and talked on and on about how he was ashamed for what he had done as we met and how he looked as we went to eat together. But we had a nice lunch together, the three of us, where we learned his real name (he gave us a fake name when we first met), learned about his two children and talked about being a true father to them, and had an opportunity to share the Gospel with him. In the end, he came back with us and played a game of foosball with my son who had come to work on bikes in our bike shop, and then when I stepped into the bathroom for a moment, promptly stopped playing the game with my son and disappeared.
Regard no one from a worldly point of view
This week, in our ministry team’s time of abiding in Christ, I read something that I think connects the experience we had with our friend yesterday. We read this in 2 Corinthians:
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.2 Corinthians 5:16
Paul is saying that we shouldn’t consider people based on what we see of them physically. The outward appearance certainly has meaning and significance, but the way that we think about other people cannot stop there. There is a much greater reality that we must consider, and that is the spiritual reality. The spiritual reality that is working inside of us has produced the physical, worldly reality, so we must look beyond our worldly point of view to what is much more important, the spiritual point of view.
In the case of our new friend, if we had regarded him from a worldly point of view, we would have – should have! – dismissed him quickly. He was trying to sell us drugs, for goodness sake. But we can’t stop at seeing him from a worldly point of view. We have to see him from a spiritual perspective. He needs Jesus Christ. He needs his heart changed. And that is what we explained to him: that he can either continue walking down the path that he is on, serving the king of the kingdom of darkness, or he can walk away from that dark kingdom through the cross of Christ into the kingdom of God where he will now serve King Jesus.
How will we regard them?
So, what about us? How will we think about other people? Can we regard others from a spiritual perspective, or will we think of them from a worldly point of view?
If we were all being honest, we would say that this is hard. What we are talking about here goes against how every culture in our world works.
Our world says that we should regard a rich man with higher status and poor man with lower status.
Our world says that we are divided into different races and we have higher or lower values based on the color of our skin.
Our world says that if you are famous, you are somebody. Otherwise, you are a nobody.
These are all worldly points of view, and it is very common for each of us to think of other people in these ways. Even if we know that these ways of thinking are wrong, it is very easy to be caught up in these ways of thinking because it becomes a practical way of working in our world.
At times, we even try to work against regarding people from a worldly point of view, but we try to fix the problems through politics and governmental actions, establishing laws against regarding people from a worldly perspective. But it never works, at least not in the long term, because these are issues of the heart. These perspectives must change as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts, no longer seeing people in the way that the world sees them, but now seeing them in the way that God sees them.
Let us pray and continually ask God – each day after the next – to show us what it means to see others through an eternal lens, as people that will worship around God’s throne and be with him forever, or be eternally separated from Him and in torment forever. Let us regard others with eternity in our view so that they will no longer say that they are lost, but now they are found.