How do I relate to people who are tempted in ways I do not feel tempted by? How can I show Christ’s love in that situation? Also, what is the difference between judgement and discernment? Sometimes, it feels from the Christian community to be one and the same with different connotations.
Hey my dear friend, I really appreciate you asking about this because I almost never hear this question. I’m thankful for your sincere heart in this.
There are many Christians I meet today who try really hard to act like they’ve been through it all so they can relate to everyone — and I’m guilty of this too. It seems there’s a new fear in church where if you haven’t been through a ridiculously prodigal phase of debauchery, then you’re somehow not qualified to counsel anyone else either.
I remembering being in a crowd of Christians once where they were comparing their former lives — how many shots they could do, all the drugs they sold, cars they wrecked, even abortions they had — and while I understand it was painful for them, I also felt like they were glamorizing some of these things to gain street cred. I noticed some of the ones who grew up in church their whole lives were either jealous or discouraged, because they felt sheltered from all these “real” experiences.
But let’s balance this out.
1) I’m jealous of sheltered people too. If you grew up in church your whole life and you’ve loved Jesus as long as you can remember, please consider yourself blessed. Those of us who are free from toxic lifestyles are always in recovery, and it’s not as glamorous as our storytelling appears to be.
2) A broken person like me needs those who have never been through what I’ve been through. I understand that recovering alcoholics and addicts need other recovering friends to know how to fight. But if we only have these kinds of friends, then we can easily enable each other or get tempted through our weakness.
When I quit porn, I went to a friend who had never struggled with porn (and those kinds of dudes are almost impossible to find). His innocence with the whole thing was exactly the perspective I needed: because his utter lack of struggle in that area showed me the true size of the temptation. It really took the fangs off. There’s also a different sort of strength from the purity of a person who has been relatively clean their entire lives.
3) No one is “more saved” than someone else. The former heroin dealer who used to beat up kittens and race cops has a cool story, sure. But when he was changed by Jesus, he’s just as much a miracle as the pastor’s daughter who heard the Gospel her whole life and accepted Jesus at youth camp. Neither has more “social capital” than the other. They might relate to different groups of people, but they don’t need a badge of baggage to help anyone.
Having said all that, I think we need some humility on both sides.
Continue reading “Question: Graciously Entering The Mess of Another”