Friday, February 10, 2012

Expecting Non-Christians to be Non-Christians - Life Lessons from Eyeglasses, Part 2

It's been an interesting week in our house.

Knowing that my daughter can't see things clearly changed the way I viewed her behavior. I gave her more leeway, patience was easier to come by, and I made a point to guide her around potential obstacles. Because I knew she couldn't see things the way the truly are, I altered my expectations of her.

What an eye-opening thought.

One of the frequent fallibilities of people is that we assume everyone is like us. Because I can see, I assumed my daughter could see. Because I love chocolate, I assume everyone else does as well. (Incidentally, my daughter doesn't. Go figure.) We tend to attribute our own traits to those around us. When it comes to Believers and Non-believers, this is a tragic mistake.

A youth minister that my husband and I mentored under once mentioned that he had to be deliberate about altering his expectations based on the student. While there are certain things you can expect of everyone who crosses your path - for instance, I expect all people to do me the courtesy of not pulling a gun on me - there are other things that you can only expect of another Christian (assuming that you are one yourself).

It isn't fair to expect a non-Christian to abide by God's laws because they don't have the benefit of the Holy Spirit aiding them in that endeavor. That doesn't make it any less wrong for a couple to be sleeping together prior to marriage, but it does make it something easier for me to understand. If it's a non-Christian couple, I have to expect them to behave as non-Christians.

1 Corinthians 5 (You can read the whole chapter here.) mentions this. There is a couple within the church behaving immorally. Paul says that because this couple claims to be Believers, there is a certain level of judgement required from the church. He leaves it to God to judge "outsiders".

The question becomes what do I do with this knowledge? I look back on this week and how I've handled my daughter. I haven't let her run around however she pleases just because she can't see. There are still certain things I expect of her as a member of our family. However, there are other things I have let slide. For instance, I don't tell her to back away from the television anymore. I am more patient when she can't find her shoes and they are right in the middle of the floor, eight inches from her toes. I am not admonishing her to pay attention to where she's going when she runs into the wall.

Next week when she gets her glasses, it will be a different story. I will then be focused on teaching her how to deal with things that are suddenly so much clearer than they have ever been in her life.

I think Christians need to handle non-Christians in a similar way. There are certain expectations when they come visit church - like don't do drugs in the parking lot. But when it comes to other things, we need to remember that they can't see as clearly as we do. Truth may be eight inches from their toes, but it looks like nothing but a blur to them. We can be their gentle guides, showing them the way life can be lived so that they will see the need for their own pair of glasses.

Next week I'll be able to expect my little girl to back away from the TV and avoid the door frame, but this week I have to remember that she's doing the best she can with flawed eyes.

Image Credits:
Eye: Danilo Rizzuti /
Scales: vichie81 /
Glasses: Wapcaplet on wikipedia

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