I think most churches have someone like this. A little socially off, non-reciprocating on friendship, they come every Sunday but during fellowship you don’t really want to talk with them, because they just vent into some issue that just happened to be on their mind. There is one such woman in our church, I will call her Amy, and tonight I just learned she had a really tough child-hood, with abusive parents, and having had many friends who had backgrounds in drugs, there might have been some heavy drug use in her past. Sometimes she’s not the most coherent.
After having a conversation about her not having any friends in the church, and about how she currently doesn’t want any friends, she said something I’ll never forget. “People don’t listen to me with their heart, they listen to me with their head. The head can be full of judgement toward someone, I think I am very misunderstood here. I wish I was just more listened to by their hearts instead.” Amy, you are right on!! I was listening to a heart plea from a woman who was living at the fringes of our church. I think she is at a place where she neither wants in on the economony of the body of Christ, nor does she want to leave. She’s just been hurt! Both from her past, and current judgements placed on her by our brothers and sisters.
Here are some points I’d like to make about these kinds of people.
1. Everybody has a longing to be a part of a family, so include them. They may be that token outsider, that no one talks to. Sacrifice your image, your social comfort, and reach out.
2. Realize everyone has a past. There are reasons for the way people are, and someone may need help maturing through a struggle. Who cares if they’re heretical, if they’re in church, they’re in the right place.
3. Listen with your heart. Spare the corrections, spare the judgements. They may know themselves they don’t have all the doctrines figured out, and they’re not looking for a professorial lesson from you, but rather a heart to heart conversation. There is a time for rebuke and a time for correction. When a person is starving for water, they don’t need to train for a marathon.
4. Pray for them! Satan doesn’t usually attack people who have their lives all figured out. If Satan is a predator, which he is, he’s going to go for the weak minded, the already injured, and the deeply hurting. These are the ones who are susceptible to attacks the most. Pray for them!