The Gap Between Us and Them
Is There a Difference?
One time I was at a bible study, and I referred to the lost as "them" as though they were in a category by themselves. Someone at the bible study told me that there doesn't need to be that much of a distinction between the lost and the saved. The way I was pointing "them" out, they could tell that I viewed the lost as sinners and the saved as righteous. As if I had never sinned.... The comment made me stop and think about why I was placing "them" into a different category whereas Jesus was the one striving to go after even that one stray that got away (Luke 15:7).
When most people think of the Holy Bible or The Holy God, they think they must be holy in order for Him to love them. I unintentionally began to think this way because I became self-righteous. Compared to the world, I wasn't living too bad at all. What I didn't realize is that spending time in God's presence and His love compelled me to make right decisions, for the most part. Later in my walk with God, I realized that it was spending time in His presence and His love that made me want to do right. It wasn't my self-righteousness that made Him want to love me.
In the bible, David seemed to understand that God was there for him personally, Saul seemed only to watch from a distance and simply realize that God's hand was upon David. Apart from this story, sometimes people may not reach out to receive God's blessings in their own lives because Christians may give them the impression that salvation is only for the saved, whereas Jesus specifically states, "It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17).
Everyone Has the Same Potential
There was a notable difference between David and Saul's life. Each character had the potential to reach out and grab God's goodness for himself, but the ability to choose always rests in the heart of creation, not the creator. God explains that "...whoever keeps his word verily is the love of God perfected; by this we know that we are in him" (1 John 2:5). His love is something that can be learned and can be discovered, one action at a time. This becomes a beautiful reciprocal relationship in which we both parties become intimate with one another. As we share our secrets and desires with God, He shares His own secrets with us as well. We can stand on His promises, knowing He is a loving God and when we recieve those promises and see them come to pass, His love appears ever more real to us.
On my way!
In the New Testament, the Pharisees and Saducees were quite different from the "pure" sinners that came to Jesus. What I love about the lost (and Jesus probably did too) is that they are not afraid to be themselves. They have "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," just as we all have. But for some reason, they seem better able to admit it. They know that they have done wrong and they don't waste time trying to cover themselves up and make themselves appear righteous for others. On the other hand, I know that I still have a hard time admitting when I have done wrong and that I need to make sure that I am reminding myself that without Christ, I am nothing.
The difference between the "religious" people and the "sinners" of the bible was not how many right decisions they had made in their lives but about how willing their hearts were to accept what God had done for them. The bible claims that "Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the hearts" (1 Samuel 16:7). We should try our best to see others the way God sees them, and we should try to love them regardless of their outward appearance. Jesus came because he loved the entire world, not because loved a select few (John 3:16).