How do we see other people as God sees them and should we?

One thing that Christ commanded was for us to preach the gospel to the lost, and to accept those that become our brothers and sisters in Christ and help them by continuing to teach them and being there for them. Often, if you preach the gospel often and bring up God a lot with strangers you’ll find a handful that are willing and wanting to study the Bible with you. All of that is great.

But my question is what do you do when that person ends up having done some really bad things. Such as if you are working with a prison ministry. While at a prison it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something good and offering light in darkness to study with people who has done something evil. But what happens when that person who became a Christian in prison gets out and shows up at your congregation. That’s where honestly sometimes I struggle. I have even been told by several that if you do reach out like that then you should do it an hour or so away. That it’s better to not do it within your community.

Or if it’s not even in prison but simply the guy you met on the streets who looked like he was really thirsty and so you ask him if he wants something to drink and then while sitting in the shade and drinking you mention God and begin witnessing to them and they want it. They want to be forgiven by God. They want a spiritual family to be there for them. They want a congregation to come to and then sometime later you find out that they were convicted of rape, murder and ect…

How do you sit next to them in church now knowing this and don’t see them as less than you or not as deserving as you or even the internal battle of should you gossip about them behind their backs and justify it as just protecting your good worthy friends in the body that maybe our newest member is some sort of threat.

It often makes me think of the apostle Paul. Paul was a murder of Christians who persecuted them terribly. He also came to Christ and we read a few passages here and there about the disciples at various times in the beginning being judgmental towards him.

I was at a congregation once as a kid and I’ll always remember it. There was a woman probably in her mid 20s who started going to our church. “Somehow a guy in our congregation who had a flat tire and pulled into what unfortunately turned out to be a strip club remembered seeing that woman come out of the bar”. Within a few weeks throughout whatever gossipy way they did it it was revealed that she use to be a stripper, that she went to jail for drug abuse and that at one time she even got caught kidnapping pets that were outside and trying to threaten the owners into giving her money or they would not see their little cat or do. She went to jail for like 2 years and was out.

Instantly any guy in church that was talking to her was suspected of just wanting to sleep with her, and anytime she was talking to a guy they were wanted that they should remember to avoid temptations and so on. It got to the point only a month or two later that she broke down and was crying and venting about the judgement and that her past is not all that she is and left. But what I remembered the most was after she left and we saw her drive off in the middle of the service the pastor said that God has a way of removing the the bad yeast from the flour.

As someone in my 30s now looking back 20 years ago I can’t believe that there was any part of me that just accepted it that she should not be there snd that almost a entire congregation of mostly 40+ years olds ridiculed, belittled, and undermined the faith of a a woman around 25 all while in church until she cried and left.

But then I realize at times I’ve done similar things to people. There has been people I met snd begin studying the Bible with who struggled with drugs and would call me because they rode with a friend back from work and was at a trailer park 40 minutes away and the others would doing drugs and so he left and he was walking back home trying to hitchhike snd it’s raining and could I get them and I instantly thought of all the “junkies” that have been in my life and how exhausting it is to have them and so I just say no and would find myself in church at times and not wanting to invite them with me and a few others out to eat or go to the movies or go hiking with us and ect…

Essentially how do you handle accepting these people with a terrible past as your real brothers and sisters in Christ and be like Jesus snd even eat with them and spend time genuinely loving them and even having them over to your house for fellowship and so on.

Are there any good books on this subject. I believe I already know what we are supposed to do, just looking for how others have handled this and what scriptures and books they connected with to help them do it.

Your experience can be applied to all of us, I am sure. My current struggle is dealing with a young lady my wife is trying to help, who in very needy and angry when others do not do her will. Drugs, mental illness, and physical illness have taken their toll, and loving her is very hard in the midst of her anger and manipulation, yet we are called to do so. When to persevere and when to walk away is a challenge.

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Par for the course in my charismatic evangelical church from 12 years ago. I’m in a supermarket carpark, just looked up to see a schizoid brother across the road. I’ve cleaned his apartment. Working with a convicted killer just last week. Sweet guy. Now the guy two doors down is more problematic, more dissociated. Always respond positively, but don’t be stupid.

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Should we? Yes of course.

How? I do not know. I think it is very difficult. This is a big part of why we need God.

Of course, the difficulties are different with different people. Not having been raised in a Christian community but in a completely different culture (an extremely liberal one), I would probably have more difficulty with the people of your congregation than with the woman you talk about. More than ever, there are people in my own country whom I simply do not comprehend. A very huge part of our difficulty are the things we have learned from toddlers to identify with evil, making it very difficult to see past such things.

I am watching “Arrival” again, one of my favorite films. And I recall the hysterical woman on the phone referring to the visiting aliens as monsters. The monsters I see in the world are all human shaped – all firmly confident of their own rights and privileges.

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I definitely would get along better with her as well. I worked as a bouncer for a strip club for a while. Though I requested the parking lot role. At that time the place only paid the women with cash. They kept having almost nightly attacks and robberies on them in the parking lot and men often got robbed goong in for the cash they carried. Though as I was leaving they tried to help overcome it by paying them with checks. But I left that place a while back. Though I do most of the maintenance and repairs for it now before hours.

I have nothing to do with that congregation now though and have not for many years. Differences on theology and so on. Type of lame church that screams demon under every rock and tells horror stories of kids watching Harry Potter and getting possessed and other ridiculous stuff.

I have no big issues with most people who shows repentance and talks about moving past it and so on. Those who did bad things. Doing construction and landscaping places a lot of those people in your path. I was also use to lots of it growing up.

What I mostly struggle with though is not that. It’s the gossip side and it’s not to cause drama for the sake of drama. It’s things like when I’m studying with someone and they decide to get baptized snd become a Christian and come to church. Then six months later they start talking with one of the women and they go out on a date and a few times, despite them all being adults, I mention to the woman that the guy went to jail for stalking and beating his ex wife several times and was s drug addict and he’s only been out of jail for something like 2 years, divorced for a few months and clean for like six months and you’ve only known him for a month or two and he’s never told you none of this.

That’s when I feel conflicted. Often they share these things with me while we are studying the Bible, and part of me feels like it should always be private and up to them to tell people. After all I would not like someone telling people I just met some of the worst things I’ve said or done in my life. But at the same time, I also care about my brothers and sisters in Christ that I’ve known for a while.

I do believe in people being able to be rehabilitated through prisons and counseling and personal growth, and with the businesses I don’t even do background checks anymore. I decided that I do believe prison reform starts with the public not extending punishment through social stigma. I believe if someone is out, then they most likely have done their time and I believe that a big part of America’s recidivism can’t be countered through opening up more doorways to those that have served their time.

I was working with a botanical garden as a volunteer for many years. One year they suddenly did background checks on everyone who has volunteered more than 1,000 hours or has been there for more than 4 years. Strictly volunteers. One guy was someone that had in over 1,500 volunteer hours and worked there almost 2-3 times a week for like 5 hours on the weekdays and 10 hours on the weekend. They found out he was s violent felon. They told him he was not allowed to be an official volunteer there anymore. But that he could still pay the $10 to enter the park and “behind the scene” volunteer but could not do any of the talks and so on. He did that for a few times and quit and some of the people reached out to other local organizations he was park of and they all basically shoved him out. One was losing membership with a local hiking group and they said he was not allowed to come with them anymore because it made others uncomfortable. For like a year after that I randomly seen him cleaning up roads that he said he “adopted” and he said that after that experience he started giving fake names and was even going to a church in a town a county over and gave them all a fake name and had been there for 4 months because he’s worried he will be forever judged by that one thing. Then he ended up moving away.

So that really made me feel bad. I feel like sometimes society, including churches, don’t act like people can really change for the better.

It’s kind of like, should a congregation really do background checks on people who apply for membership because some do. I see the obvious pros in it. But I also feel like there are cons as well.

Your story reveals even more differences between us. While my up-bringing was extremely liberal, it was also a bit on the intellectual side with two psychology majors as parents. As a result I am more of an over-educated ivory tower intellectual than someone so down-to-earth that they would work as a bouncer in a strip club. LOL I guess you might see me as a bit of a geek. My eldest son almost got a job as a bouncer at a bar and that was a smidge uncomfortable to me if you might imagine it. Not that I said anything – it was just a bit alien to my own way of life.

I am reminded of a favorite book, “The Time of the Dark” by Barbara Hambly, where one character, who works as a air-brush jockey painting motorcycles and vans, names a woman who is working on a PHD in medieval literature, “a real spook.” Obviously she wasn’t sure what to think of him either.

Ah… I am not sure the full list of my own sins would go over too well in some crowds. Even an ivory tower intellectual is still very much a sinner. One sin that continues to plague me with guilt is when I outsmarted a worker at a store who suspected me of shoplifting. Now I cringe when I think of his embarrassment from being wrong about me. I am the one, of course, who should apologize to him, since he was right!

Oops… LOL I guess I just added to your burden the way she and those others did. Forgive me!

Hmmm… the only thing a background check will show is if you got caught!!!

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I think everyone here is probably a geek. I’ve not met a non nerdy person interested in theology and science to the point they talk about it almost daily.

At that time it was a lot of money to me. It was $1,200 cash for 15 hours of work spread over 3 days and only took 10 minutes to get there.

Everyone short of Jesus would probably hate to begin with their worst time being their introduction to everyone they met.

My parents was far from academics. Very far from being liberals too for the most part. Though they really changed a lot at different times in my life. But they also had me when they were 18. Ive changed a lot from 18 to now as well. My dad believed in evolution, and talked about it, but it was also combined with very faulty information. He was mostly anti Christian than he was atheist. He was hurt by the church several times from childhood up. Went to a very abusive Catholic school where I guess it was common to be punished by being spanked in front of the class, and being beaten by rulers on your knuckles and other things. He was raised by a very backwards and religious stepfather. So he was a very angry at god and Christianity type of person for most of my youth. He ran construction crews for a big contractor back in the day and so most of his friends were also contractors or subcontractors.

Ultimately I’m glad everything happened the way it happened because I would rather be myself than another person. Plus once you become a independent thinker and learn to sort through data and are open to wisdom from others childhood seems to mostly be irrelevant outside of a few things.

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But my worry is not so much over smaller things like theft. It’s more about people who came from long term violent and manipulative tendencies that seriously harmed others and if it’s better to not mention it to people in the church , or encourage them to tell it , or just ignore it all together unless something seems off.

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