One of our regular readers, Stephen, wrote requesting a post on “how to treat people outside of our Church.”
He further asked, “If we see someone outside the Church being hurt, what does God say that we should do?”
The Bible is a book, not only about sin, salvation, and redemption, it speaks specifically to our relationships. All relationships. Including our relationships with those who are not a part of our church family, who are not Christians.
(1) Begin by loving.
Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”
He replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”
Then he said, “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39)
Then he added, “There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk. 12:31).
We cannot separate our love for God apart from our neighbor, who is made in God’s image. This kind of love is not a mushy sentimentality. Or a fleeting emotion. But a love of the will. A love that seeks the best interest of others.
Barclay was right, when we take away the love of God, we become angry at the man who is unteachable. And pessimistic toward one who seems unwilling to improve. Without a right relationship with God, we can become cold, callous and uncaring toward the sinner for whom Christ died (Rom. 5:8).
(2) Be Compassionate toward the hurting.
“Who is my neighbor?” Jesus was once asked.
The Master Teacher replied by telling the famous parable we call “The Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37).
In the story, a man was traveling the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Thieves attacked him. Beat him. Stole his possession. And left him wounded and dying alongside the road.
Both a Priest and Levite came along but did nothing to attend to the hurting man. They just went on their way.
However, a Samaritan, a man despised by the Jews for his race, saw the bleeding stranger and “had compassion.” He bandaged his wounds. Did what he could. And then took him to an Inn where he paid for his lodging and asked the Innkeeper to care for him.
“So which of these three,” Jesus asked, “do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
We can’t alleviate all the suffering in the world. But we can help those with whom we come in contact. The Bible instructs “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men” (Gal 6:10). Whether Christians or not.
(3) Practice the Golden Rule.
In His Mountain Message Jesus issued the supreme rule of relationships that is profound in its simplicity. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12).
How do you desire to be treated? Fairly? Honestly? Respectfully? Kindly? Politely? Reasonably? Yes. All of these and more.
In a perfect world, everyone would treat others following these three guidelines. But, they don’t. But we think surely Christians would respond lovingly, compassionately, and humanely. Sadly, not everyone does. Because the church is composed of people who are imperfect.
When we see people hurting, let’s help. Look for opportunities outside your church family to offer assistance. Friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers and even complete strangers who are struggling that can be encouraged with a kind word. A helping hand. Or financial assistance.
In addition, there are many worthy charities and organizations the operate both locally and internationally that do good for people of all races and religions that we can support.
We are not required to agree with everyone’s religious, moral or political views to care about them. Love them. Help them. And treat them with dignity.
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Lk. 6:35-36).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman