Summary: How do we respond to those who are new Christians and who still "smell" of their former sinful lives?
“WHAT'S THAT SMELL?”: People just spiritually delivered by God usually don’t “smell good.”
- Jonah 2:10.
- Jonah didn’t smell good.
- People coming out of sinful lives don’t usually “smell good.”
- There’s lingering sin. There are attitudes. There are habits.
- We all want Disney endings, but often deliverance is dirty, ugly, and messy.
- Smelling like a flower in church versus like vomit.
- If someone came to church smelling like vomit, you can imagine the offended and shocked looks they would get. That’s similar to the looks some people get when they come to church in their sin.
- Repentance smells like vomit.
OUR JOB: See beyond the vomit to the value.
- What do I mean by that?
- It would have been easy to look at Jonah and want to head in the opposite direction. He was covered in whale puke. He’d just spent three days and nights marinating in whale stomach enzymes. I have no doubt that he stunk to high heaven.
- But look beyond the vomit for a moment. Also standing before you is a called man of God. Also standing before you is an embodiment of God’s grace and redemption. Perhaps (going back to the last sermon) is even a man newly risen from the dead!
- It would be easy to be overwhelmed (literally and figuratively) by the smell of the vomit. But look beyond the vomit to the value.
- When we see people taking first steps toward God, we need to see beyond the vomit to the value.
- Yes, that person may look terrible because of the drugs they’ve been doing, but look beyond the vomit to the value. There’s a person there that God is going to use to transform dozens of lives of other addicts.
- Yes, that person may reek of bitterness because of the divorce she just came through, but look beyond the vomit to the value. There’s a heart of mercy deep inside that God is going to use to touch others.
- Yes, that person may be the meanest man on his shift, but look beyond the vomit to the value. There’s a desire to serve the Lord that’s going to be transformative for the church.
- We need to see beyond the problems to the person.
- No one can clean themselves up. We believe that it takes the Holy Spirit working in our live to transform us.
- Jesus came for the messed-up.
- He said He came for the sick, not the well (Mark 2:17).
- We need to accept that lost people usually bring a mess with them.
- It’s actually a reason – in a way – to praise God. The fact that they have big issues means that God is working on someone who was deep in sin. It’s a good thing. This thing is about redemption!
- Too often we want people who are already cleaned up coming in the church to help us grow. We seem to want people who have been cleaned up by other churches and then come to fit right in at our church. No! We should want those who are deep in sin and who are far from God. And when those people are saved, we need to see beyond the vomit to the value.
- Many people don’t come to church even if there is some desire toward God in their heart because they know (and they’re right) that we don’t want them.
1. Don’t just look at them – go and encourage them.
- Even if we are glad that they have started to church, too often we don’t express that. We glance at them from across the sanctuary, glad that they’re here but never going over and talking to them.
- The problem is that for the new person those furtive glances can feel like judgment rather than welcome. It’s likely that they’re already apprehensive about being in the church in the first place.
- We need to make it a point, not just once but regularly, to go and encourage them.
- “I’m so glad you’re here!”
- “I’m praying for you.”
- “Your presence is a joy to me.”
- Love them even if they scare you. Encourage them even if they offend you.
- We need to love them before the life change happens.
- After all, that’s what God did for us.
- Story: Having J. come forward. Huge biker guy – he looked the very definition of tough. I was intimidated by him. Someone told me later that he was scared of me (because me being a preacher intimidated him just because he didn’t know a lot about God).
2. You don’t need to point out the smell.