Hold Out for Reality
During those seven years they obviously stayed involved in some way with that man, right?
Well, yes. But having a truth-based relationship is different than having fellowship. Fellowship can only be in the Spirit, and if you can’t find the Jesus in them, then fellowship with Jesus through them can’t happen. But you can still have a truth-based relationship where you’re willing to tell them the truth. You love them. You care and you’re telling them the truth. But you’re not fellowshipping with Jesus through them, because you can’t find that there.
So you keep telling them the truth because you love them.
So you knew something about him that he wasn’t saved?
He thought he was saved and the only reason he probably ever considered that he wasn’t, was because people loved him enough to not let him get away with that view of himself. He would say, “But I say, ‘Lord, Lord.’ I even do good works in His name. I’d give my body to be burned.” But the people near him knew something was wrong.
He wasn’t connected.
And you don’t receive somebody if there’s no connection—even if you don’t know what is blocking the connection. You hold out for reality. You hold out for spiritual engagement. You don’t just pretend there’s a connection when there’s not. The reason it’s not there will eventually show itself.
With the rich young ruler, Jesus said, “This one thing you lack.” Jesus nailed it, didn’t He? Maybe we don’t have enough discernment to say what it is, right from the start. But if you fellowship with them and if you open your heart and your life to them and receive them and pretend that everything is okay when it’s not, then they may lose their soul. And it will be partially your fault, because you had the ability to pull back and hold out for reality even if it wasn’t popular…but you didn’t do it. Maybe you didn’t have the courage for it. Even if you don’t know what’s lacking, it’s there someplace.
It’s possible to be a coward and refuse to be an ambassador. In most religious environments this is what will happen. Let’s say that the Spirit of God lives in me and there’s something “off” about another person—how they carry themselves, their mouth, their attitude, they just reek of the world. I can’t give my heart away to them. So, what happens in a normal religious environment? I just back away and pay attention only to my friends. I only have fellowship with people I can have relationship with. I ignore the guy that reeks of bad things. But God said that’s not possible and it’s wrong. “Get the leaven out of the batch. A little leaven leavens the whole batch.” You and others will be affected spiritually by the sin that is ignored.
It’s like having a hole in the ozone layer and everybody is irradiated by it. Everybody ends up with skin cancer because somebody opened up a hole in the ozone layer and radiation is pouring through. Well, that’s how damaging it is to have sin in a congregation of believers and nobody doing anything about it. Things are at stake like Achan’s idol in his tent, and we don’t have a right to ignore those things.
The religious world has taught us that it’s okay to have fellowship with this set of people that you can genuinely connect to, and it’s okay to ignore all these other people that claim to be part of that church but may not even be saved. We can’t let that happen, wherever we happen to be. We have to walk through that doorway and try to help them overcome it. And then bring two or three and then tell the church if necessary. You can’t just pretend.