4 Common Responses to the Needs of the Lost

Don’t Fall into the Trap of Alienating, Accosting, or Affronting Sinners

Several weeks ago, our daughter April went to Home Depot to get a couple of keys made. Home Depot is located just a few miles from our home, and the cost of the keys was minimal. But what was intended to be a simple task of relative ease turned into quite a fiasco, a fiasco that was created by the help she encountered.

The first attendant that she encountered said that he had no earthly idea how to make a key. So he pointed her in the direction of the key machine and said (and I quote), “Knock yourself out.” So April put the blank in the key machine and proceeded to cut her own key.

No sooner had she begun, than she was surrounded by three other home depot employees. She could feel their ominous stares and so she nervously said, “Hi guys, what’s happening?” One employee in this semi-circle of advisors began to chastise my daughter for making her own key. “You’re not allowed to operate this equipment,” he disdainfully asserted.

The second employee in the semi-circle began to chuckle. He felt that it was absolutely comical that someone would attempt to make their own key. The third person then offered her assistance, and said, “Come on, sweetheart, I’ll help you get your keys made.”

And thus, there were four responses: 1) the abstinence of responsibility—“knock yourself out;” 2) the critique of activity—“you’re not allowed to work this machine;” 3) the laugh of disdain—“what a hoot that you think you can do it;” and 4) the assistance of friendship—“come on, sweetheart, I’ll help you.”

As my daughter relayed her afternoon at Home Depot to me, I thought of how often churches are like that Home Depot. We have been given the keys to the kingdom, but some of us abdicate responsibility. When people enter our churches with apparent needs, we turn them away. They are on their own. We hope that they can figure it out by themselves.

Some of us, however, are continual critics. Don’t they know they are not allowed to be involved in this activity? Who gave them permission to act like this? Don’t they know they are outside the bounds of acceptable protocol?

Still others find the whole thing comical. The body piercings, the colored hair, the tattoos—it is all a big joke to them. They act as if dysfunction is something to be laughed at rather than helped.

But then there are others (praise God for them) who actually but an arm around the “customer” and say, “Come on, sweetheart, I’ll help you.” I trust that I am this kind of employee in God’s work force.

My daughter walked out of Home Depot that afternoon with her keys in hand not because she was alienated, accosted, or affronted, but because she was assisted. If we understand what should have happened at Home Depot, why don’t we understand it when it comes to church? Help someone get a hold of the right keys today!

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