BY KEN BOONE
Having been in ministry for nearly 20 years, I’ve surrounded myself with Christian music, Christian books, Christian friends, Christian leaders, and everything else “Christian”. Recently my wife and I set out on a new venture to plant a church. It certainly has its challenges, one of them being the area of finances. In order to supplement our income I took a job with a landscaping company mowing grass. For the first time in nearly 20 years I was in close contact with several individuals who weren’t christians. Sure we rub shoulders with non-christians on a daily basis as we live our lives in our various communities. I can tell you from first hand experience it’s another thing to be directly involved with them in a workplace environment. From the very beginning most of them were aware that I was involved in pastoral ministry. Some of them even warned me about the language and topics that I might encounter while on the job site. To be honest I’ve tried not to shelter myself so much that I completely insulate myself from the world around me. After all, these are the very people we are supposed to rub shoulders with and befriend. Jesus wasn’t referred to as “the friend of sinners” for no reason. These were the type of people he was around. He ate with them, attended their parties, healed their sick, and ministered to them, but first and foremost He was their friend. Jesus didn’t give them a set of rules that they would have to follow if they desired to be in His presence. They were after all sinners, they said things sinners say, and they did things sinners do.
I’ve heard Christians in the past complain about the things they encounter at the workplace and I’ve heard Christians demand that people tone it down because “that type of language offends me” after all, they are Christians. I determined in my heart to not be offended. I’ve heard it all before, believe me, but none of it is unfamiliar since I was once in their shoes too. I chose to be their friend regardless of how they viewed me. I engaged them in their conversations even when they were dropping the “F-bomb”, laughed at most of their jokes (not all), and showed concern when they talked about the challenges they face. I never gave them a set of rules they had to abide by whenever they were around me.
There is a fascinating scripture in John 20:23 where Jesus states: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Over the years I’ve wrestled with this scripture. I’ve been taught, and still believe that repentance is required for salvation. Although now I understand repentance as a change of mind, and not so much as an act where we simply say we are sorry. To be forgiven of sins requires one to accept forgiveness and to change the way they think about the sins they are committing. People outside of Christ sin because they don’t know any different. Which is why Jesus declared from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are do”. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to awaken us to a new reality, to change our heart, and to begin to change the way we think.
As christians it is our job to be involved in the process of notifying the world around us that they are forgiven. Often times we are too isolated, or too offended to communicate this message. When we walk in offense because of the sinful things going on in our proximity what we are communicating is that those individuals are not forgiven, and by own our actions we are retaining their sins which means to “continue to hold on to”. The statement from Jesus above empowers us to make a choice. It is not an either or, it is one or the other. Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that “we have been given the ministry of reconciliation”. That we reconcile the favor of God back to those separated from Him by sin. This requires us to extend forgiveness to everyone regardless of their actions. Just before Paul makes that declaration he states that God is “no longer counting people’s sins against them” (NLT). My question is if God isn’t, then why are we?
Recently the foreman on our crew got a screw in a brand new tire of his truck. He was frustrated and let out a verbal assault that would have made a drunken sailor blush. I jumped in and began to do what I could to help fix the tire. We got it patched up and I assured him the plug would hold. Shortly after when no one was around he approached me and said: “Ken, I’m Sorry”. I said: “you’re forgiven”. I can tell you he’s never apologized before and I never mentioned anything about it. Shortly thereafter he was back to dropping F-bombs, and telling inappropriate stories, but he is forgiven because I chose to not be offended, I chose to be his friend, I chose to love.
“As the Father has sent me, I also send you” – Jesus
Ken Boone currently serves as a co-host on The Alliance Podcast at boldcupofcoffee.com and founding pastor at Alabaster House as well as a public speaker, travelling equipper and writer.
Ken and his wife Christa are the proud parents of four children. They have been married for more than 15 years. And have been in the ministry for more than 17 years, They have dedicated their lives to preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom", and to living a life in partnership with Holy Spirit. Their desire is to see believers equipped to live a lifestyle that brings the realities of Heaven to the world that we live in, to see the culture of the Kingdom of God replace the cultures around us. And to fulfill the mandate from Jesus to: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, freely you have received freely give."
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