Look On the Bright Side

Strangely enough, our run-off-and-join-the-heretics friend has made contact with us. I’m pretty sure that she knows she’s not supposed to, but she pretty obviously has no intention of telling her Jehovah’s Witnesses friends. It started with her calling us yesterday asking to meet with us. This was great, since I was wanting one more opportunity to talk with her before she heads off to take her place among the 144,000+. So we met and talked. I was able to say about everything I needed to say in about ten minutes – my wife and her naturally went on talking for another hour. I went over the Gospel with her again, told her the basic problems I have with religion of any flavor, and told her the door was open anytime that she wanted to come back. Her reason for meeting was… she missed us. She told my wife that Saturday, the first Bible study that she missed, she had to sit and watch a movie the whole time she knew our study was going on so she wouldn’t go crazy.  

And she still wants to be friends. Big concern. I told her that if she sticks with this crowd, she won’t want to be my friend for long. That I’ve got to talk about Jesus and the Bible and our study. She admitted that the reason she’s made the decision she’s made really has nothing to do with what we believe or they believe. They pressured her, and she was afraid of losing their friendship – of making them angry at her. I totally understand – I’m always afraid my best friends are going to get angry at me and not be my friends anymore.  

Anyway, she asked if she could come by again today while my wife and I were having language school. No problem. So she did. Five us there. Me and St., my wife and T., and D. And it’s pretty obvious that it’s happening already. She’s gonna have to choose. We ate dinner together and talked about the plans for Omega’s future – and she couldn’t really participate. She was clearly an outsider, and she was feeling it pretty hard.  

I feel like we probably did several things wrong with D., but I’m trying my hardest to see the good right now. I’m not much for resolutions – especially this time of year (who’s ever heard of an “end of the year” resolution?), but this whole scenario has made me think of some things that I’d like to be true whenever, inevitably, something like this happens in the future. First of all, when people leave us, I want them to know that they’re turning in their “Jesus” jersey and joining another team. I would hate for anyone to ever leave us for someone that loved Jesus or honored His Word more than we did. When someone walks away from us consciously walking away from Jesus, knowing you’re still on the right side makes it easier to take the hurt.  

And speaking of hurt, when people leave, I want it to. I want it to hurt us, and I want it to hurt them. Hurt us, because we’ve really invested in them, because we’ve seen them be born and grow spiritually, and because we’ve really loved them the way Jesus has called us to. Hurt them, because we’ve let them be part of something truly exciting and unique, because we’ve developed a close relationship, and because they know that what they’re doing is the wrong thing. If there’s any lesson that I needed to be taught when I landed on the field, it was Christ-like love, and though I’ve still got much to learn about what that means, I wonder sometimes how much of what happens is God teaching me that lesson. We should feel hurt at this situation because of the reaction of Christ. How must He feel when someone leaves His side for another?  

And third, I hope we do a good job of leaving the door open. We’ve told her, but only time will tell if we do this right. This includes how we talk to the other leaders about it, how the leaders talk to other people about it, and how we all treat her. For instance, when she walked in yesterday, one of the leaders gave her a pretty harsh “long time no see” as a welcome. Too much of that, and there’s a fat chance she’ll ever be back. And the final step of leaving the door open is the welcoming party when she steps back in. We need to have a prodigal’s-father spirit of celebration, that’s for sure. Elder brothers never leave the door open. 

Anyway, I’m sure we have blown it and will continue to blow it in a lot of ways. But these are a few things that have been a comfort to me in this mess, and I hope we can stay true to in the future.

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