This life is lived on a battlefield. And as with any physical battlefield, our spiritual battlefield includes punches and counter-punches, strategy and happenstance, really solid decisions and really lousy decisions.
And the result of the lousy decisions, the unexpected counter-punches, or the happenstance (happenstance from our perspective mind you, because nothing surprises God), is often wounding. Wounding that affects both good warriors and bad warriors. Wounding that is very often self-inflicted.
As part of the body of Christ, we have an obligation to care for these wounded and do everything we can to get them to safety and help them heal.
No warrior deserves to be left to bleed out on the spiritual battlefield.
Yet so often, that’s exactly what we do.
We consider their sin too atrocious, or their struggle too embarrassing to be associated with, or their spiritual/emotional condition too untouchable.
And so we act like the priest and the Levite who turned a blind eye to the dying man, instead of the Samaritan who stopped to lend aid (see Luke 10:30-35).
And that’s at best.
At worst, we kick them while they’re down, wag our heads in disgust, and go off to speculate about them and their brokenness in the comfy circles of the mask-wearing gossips. You know, those circles where the real goal is to keep the focus on the one whose mask has slipped so as to avoid anyone noticing what is behind our own mask.
That’s not the way Jesus’ church is supposed to act.
How many times did Jesus Himself kick someone who was down? Never. If it can be said that He kicked anyone, it was the ones who were standing upright in a spirit of arrogance and pride (which incidentally were the ones who were consistently kicking or neglecting the wounded).
Let’s take a page from His playbook.
He treated the adulterous with love and compassion – why can’t we do the same with the sexually broken?
He embraced the tax cheats and extortionists and inspired them to make positive change – why can’t we do likewise for those caught in the downward spirals of substance abuse?
He took a few hot-headed sailors (who probably had the demeanor and vocabularies to match) and empowered them to change the world – why can’t we show grace to those in our midst who might not fit our idea of ‘acceptable church people’?
This isn’t to say everything is okay. Sexual brokenness, substance abuse, greed, abusive tempers, etc. do not allow anyone to reach their full potential. And there is so much damage done to innocent people when such things go unchecked. Cycles of brokenness have to be addressed and personal change (sometimes drastic personal change) must be pursued.
But if a warrior is lying wounded in a pool of his or her own blood, and is desiring restoration and wholeness…neither criticism nor desertion are what they need.
Love them like Jesus. Bind their wounds. Stay at their side. And see what happens.
Chances are, you’ll witness a miraculously changed life.