Bumper cars are one of the carnival rides at Dollywood’s amusement park near us. The fun of the ride is doing exactly what its name says – bumping – into another car, into the walls and the poles around the structure. The cars are equipped with soft bumpers so the “crashes” don’t hurt you or anything you hit (Wouldn’t that be helpful at those drive-in’s where scratches and bumps are inevitable?!). Anyway…
It’s fun to go in with a group and get an eye on your target car and head for them as quickly as that little electronic car will let you travel. Their car goes reeling and you speed off, laughing that you got the first “hit!”
That fun scene isn’t so pleasant when the “bumping” happens when your life crashes into a situation that is sinful. I recently had an alarming experience when I slammed right into a lifestyle that is not only different from anything I’ve ever been close to, but one that the Bible renounces. I didn’t know how to respond. I was blown away. I was burdened for those involved. And honestly, I felt offended by the bruise it gave my soul.
For days I could not shake the disturbance this scene caused. I prayed about it. I pondered my response, and then I turned to God’s Word and dug in, looking for what God wanted me to learn. If I wanted to know how believers are to respond when their life bumps into sinful situations, I needed to be reminded of how Jesus responded. I turned to John, Chapters 2 and 4.
In John 2 we find Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers in the Temple.
In John 4 Jesus meets the Woman at the well – the lady who had been married multiple times, and was now living with a man to whom she was not married.
The way He responded to the sins of both of these people taught me how He expects me to respond as well.
When my life bumps into sinners ~
- Consider the location
- At church – Sin shouldn’t be practiced in this place. The money-changer was selling in the Temple, the place where worship and the teaching of God’s Word was to occur.
- In the world – We should expect it! There’s no reason to be surprised by sin here; these dear people don’t know the Redeemer (yet!).
- Consider the person
- Money-Changers sold for a religious occasion out of a greedy heart. They were making merchandise of this Holy custom.
- The Samaritan woman married five times to fill a void in her life. She knew no better!
- Consider the need
- The Money-Changers were making a living by abusing the Passover.
- The Samaritan Woman lived this way due to her sinful nature. She didn’t know better (yet!).
Application for you and me:
- Sin is never to be overlooked, ignored or tolerated. That sin that I bumped into was in the world, a place where I shouldn’t be surprised at seeing it, but that doesn’t mean I can accept it – it’s still an offence against a holy God.
- Sin should be answered through the Scripture. We mustn’t argue or debate the truth – we share it with the love that Christ showed the Samaritan Woman. We engage in the sinner’s life and ask good questions that will give us the opportunity to give God’s Word as the answer their hungry hearts are seeking.
- Sinners should be introduced to Jesus – John 4:29
- Share and live the Truth, then allow sinners to make up their own mind – to turn to Jesus or not. John 4:42
- My response –
- In the world:
- Love the sinner
- Point to Jesus
- Live out the life of a believer
- Go my way looking for other sinners.
- In the church:
- Remember your own sin first! If it were not for God’s grace, we, too, could be overcome with sin.
- With a humble heart, point out the sin to those that claim Christ.
- Use God’s Word, not my standard.
- Ask questions.
- Pray for change and then let the Holy Spirit do the convicting (we cannot change anyone).
Though I didn’t especially enjoy the bumper car experience when I banged up against sin in the world, I’m so thankful for what God taught me after the crash! I pray that my response will be biblical, both in the world and in my church from here on out.
Oh, and if I ever see you across the arena of the Bumper Car course, look out!
Have you struggled with how to respond to blatant sin in the world? How about at church?