Good Grief (3)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the timecomes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13.34, 35
Wrong attitudes toward the lost
It is impossible to imagine Jesus saying this with a smiling face. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1.11). The pain of rejection must have been added to by the grief Jesus felt at the lost condition of the people of Jerusalem. They had hardened their hearts toward God, despising His prophets, disobeying His Word, and now, repudiating His Messiah.
The terrible plight of lost men and women grieved Jesus Christ, and it should grieve us as well.
I cringe whenever I hear some preacher ranting on against secular humanists, or read some Christian blogger spouting off against Darwinists, postmodernists, or any of the other usual suspects against whom Christians rage these days. We see very little of such an attitude in the Scriptures, whether of the Old or the New Testaments. Yes, there is an occasional prophetic outburst, but for the most part, the prophets’ harshest condemnations are for those who claim to believe in God.
Still, the condemnations and words of judgment proclaimed against the unbelieving world by prophets and apostles can be very frightening (cf. Rom. 1.18-32).
We must remember that lost people are at all times lost! They denounce our faith because they have not come to know the Lord. They heap scorn upon our convictions, mock us as ignorant and unreasoning, and practically go into apoplexy over our moral positions.
But what is it about any of those responses that justifies our resorting to name-calling, character assassination, or condescending and demeaning language? Jesus sorrowed over the lost condition of the people of His day, and we must abide no other attitude toward the unbelievers of our own.
Sorrowing and grieving for the plight of the lost is yet another form of good grief we must allow to grow in our hearts.
Lost people do not know the Lord. As we have seen, they have put their hopes for meaning and happiness in things which cannot last, and time and time again they’ve been disappointed and discouraged. They spend their days in a mindset of getting and spending, keeping up with – if not ahead of – their friends and co-workers, and trying to feel good about their chosen course in life. They live with guilt, which they must continually rationalize, and the fear of death haunts them throughout their lives (Heb. 2.15). Because they can discover no deeply satisfying meaning and purpose to life, they fill their waking hours with work, diversions, and various inane and sensual experiences, all the while continually asking themselves, “Am I having fun yet?”
Just think of the bumper stickers you see on the cars that race past you on the highway: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” “Life’s a bitch; then you die.” “How’s that ‘hope and change’ workin’ out for ya?” “My kid can beat up your kid.” “How’s my driving: 1-800- EAT _ _ _ _” Do these sound like the boastings of people who are really satisfied with their lives? Lost people are lost! Dead in their trespasses and sins, as Paul puts it. Cut off from the hope and promises of God. Without an anchor for their souls. Trapped in a downward spiral of unbelief, idolatry, sensuality, sin, and death (cf. Eph. 2.1-12; Rom. 1.18-32).
And their prospects beyond this life are bleaker still. No wonder Jesus so often warned His hearers about the eternal judgment to come.
Grieve for the lost
If the confusion, fear, uncertainty, vanity, and ultimate destiny of the lost doesn’t break our hearts, then we don’t have the heart of Jesus beating in our souls. Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, was deeply grieved over the sinful plight of the people of His day. If we would be truly His followers, then we must train our hearts to grieve for the lost people around us in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, communities – even our churches.
Who knows, if such grief becomes established in our souls, it may lead us to reach out to the people around us with the Good News of hope and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Grieving and sorrowing for the lost condition of the people around us is good grief. Let us seek the Lord to nurture such sympathetic sorrowing in our souls.
1. Read Romans 3 and Ephesians 2.1-12. What is it about being lost that should cause us to have compassion toward lost people?
2. Suggest some ways we might pray for those whose lostness causes us to grieve.
3. Should we fear to befriend lost people? Why or why not? What dangers do we need to be mindful of in so doing? What opportunities can we expect?
Next steps - Conversation: Spend some time talking with some unbelievers – at work or school, or among your friends. Ask about their hopes in life. What are they trying to experience as “the good life”? How’s that working out for them? Do they have fears? Concerns? Ask your unbelieving friends if you can pray for them, and find out some specific requests. Then take these to the Lord daily.
T. M. Moore
This is part 7 of a multi-part series on Keeping the Heart. To download this week’s study as a free PDF, click here.
The Lord uses your prayers and gifts to help us in this ministry. Add us to your regular prayer list, and seek the Lord concerning whether He would have you share with us. You can contribute to The Fellowship of Ailbe by using the contribute buttonat the website, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Experience the Celtic Revival at first hand. Join Fellowship of Ailbe Brother Dr. Glenn Sunshine for a teaching tour of Irish and Scottish Celtic Christian sites, June 14-17, 2017. For more information, click here.
Where do the heart, mind, and conscience – which together comprise the soul – fit in our Christian worldview? Our free online course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, shows you how to understand the workings of your soul in relation to all other aspects of your life in Christ. For more information and to register, click here.
Join the Conversations! Our newest feature invites you to listen in as T. M. talks with Christian leaders about books, culture, faith, and much more. His conversation with Dr. Stan Gale on the role of forgiveness in the life of faith can be found by clicking here. His discussion of works by C. S. Lewis with The Fellowship of Ailbe Board Chairman Charlie Hammett can be found by clicking here for The Great Divorce and here for The Abolition of Man. Discover Christian still life artist Philip R. Jackson, by clicking here. Or click the Resources tab, then scroll down and click on Conversations to watch all three.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.