We learned it in sports. It was said to us a eager and energetic basketball campers, learning the fundamentals of b-ball from one of John Wooden's UCLA players who became a coach at our local junior college. He said it nonchalantly. Yet, his words stuck.
We need to be extra careful with how we approach recovering and reclaiming the lost. People are fragile. No, they don't come with it stamped in red across their bodies. They just are fragile. Some wear their emotions right on their sleeves. Others keep them hidden behind masks and facades.
What do you do when a wayward brother or sister makes their way back to church? Do you attack them as they cross the threshold, asking where in God's name they've been all of this time? Do you offer a sweet surrender to to the Holy Spirit, seeking the unction for your every move with care? What do you do with the lost? It can either lead to their development or their damage. Be extra careful.
Such a ministry as the ministry of reconciliation is not a carefree ministry. It is at the core of the people business. It centers on how we deal with and interact with other people.
How well do we care for other people?
This isn't the type of business where you can go for it with a whole lot of trial and error. We lose people when we test out and pilot new programs that leave people out of the loop. We miss the mark when we do not have anyone calling people back or calling on the Lord to intercede based upon what we have encountered with the lost in our community.
Let's be helpful without becoming harmful. Let us help. Let us do no harm.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin,
you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently . . .