The other day I got a "warning " message through the grapevine that a long-time friend and customer of mine was suspected of being involved in an unethical and possibly illegal situation. I have not seen him in some time, have known him for years, never had a problem. What bothers me is the ease with which people throw around accusations and attitudes; and speculations grow in the telling. It's too easy to assume that someone with a smudge on their reputation is capable of any evil, especially when you don't actually know the person.
I'm reminded of incidents in the life of Jesus and the early church where people who considered themselves to be "good people' criticized Jesus and HIs followers for associating with people who were seen as hopelessly sinful and beyond redemption. Jesus' answer was that is the sick who need a doctor. He could see past the outside appearance and knew which hearts were open to Him--and which ones weren't.
Unfortunately, we don't have Jesus' supernatural discernment. We can make misjudgments both directions. I found Chris' sermon on looking "across the street" to reach out pretty scary, when I look at many of the people I see during my day. I've always tried to be upfront about what I believe and why, and do have amazing conversations with people who come into my store. I do have opportunities to pray with people and for people. But we are also called to be "as wise as serpents and harmless as doves." In the long run, it is prayer that will give us mercy where appropriate and wisdom where necessary. Please pray for me--I am being advised to move my business out of downtown San Bernardino.
We are responsible for our own behavoir. God offers us the grace and strength to do what is right in His eyes, and part of our responsibility is to see with His eyes. The tough question is what we do (if anything) about other people's actions. If we have legitimate authority over another person, our responsibility is greater. The question of authority can be a major issue, requiring serious prayer.
Issues of leadership and authority were problems in the Corinthian church; The Message puts it like this: " We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours. "2 Corinthians 1:24 (MSG).