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Reaching for the Fallen
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
Just recently, the mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson, was interviewed by Ben Ferguson and Ted Cruz on the Verdict podcast. While Johnson is not a member of the church of Christ, as evidenced by things said in his interview, he indicated that his grandparents were devout members of the church.

In connection with is religious convictions, he was asked about his defection from the Democrat Party to the Republican party, and he had some interesting things to say. While the seminal concept in this article is political, it has some serious spiritual considerations. Regardless of your political convictions, there is a germ of wisdom that might be gleaned from this discourse.

When asked about his decision to leave the Democrat party Johnson stated, “I probably had more phone calls--I know--I had more phone calls with people distraught about this party switch than I ever would have gotten if I had told people that I was actually leaving the church.”1 I hope he was wrong in the summation of a church reacting to his leaving, but I fear he was not.

In consideration of this reasoning, when was the last time you reached out to a person who is no longer faithful to the Lord? Would there be more concern over one with similar political affiliations changing parties than one leaving the church? Unlike the rhetorical comment made by Cain, we are our brother’s keeper in a spiritual sense. Genesis 4:9 says, “Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"

If each congregation of the Lord’s people just restored those no longer faithful, most congregations would probably double in attendance. The next time you are in church just think about the number of people who are no longer serving the Lord. Also, consider the last time you reached out to them and asked them to come back to the Lord.

Scripture demonstrates that one can fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). This being so, an erring child of God needs restoration. A great example of this is found in Galatians 6:1-2. It says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That is the spiritually minded person needs to seek out his unfaithful brother in an attitude of meekness in a careful manner, so they are not tempted to fall from the truth in like manner.

These things happen because Christianity can be burdensome at times. If there were no burdens to bear in our Christian walk, why would Paul further admonish the brethren at Galatia to “bear one another’s burdens?” Satan is constantly working to distract us from the Christian pathway, and he lays obstacles in our way to impede our spiritual advancement.

Jude encourages his readers to keep themselves in the “love of God,” which implies that one can act in such a way to endanger their salvation. He says, in verses 21-23, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal

life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” That is, we are to have compassion upon the erring to the extent that we pull “them out of the fire.”

The phrase, “pulling them out of the fire,” carries with it the idea of urgency. Most every parent has had a situation where they had to grab a small child that was about to harm themselves in some manner or another. This same line of reasoning might be used regarding an erring Christian—they need to be snatched away from the fires of eternal condemnation. Do we act with the same urgency when continual unfaithfulness endangers a person’s soul?

We need to have the attitude of the Father in the story of the prodigal son. It appears that the father was continually watching to see if his son would return. This seems to be the case because the father ran to him. Luke 15:20 says, "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Hopefully, the brethren are continually praying for the return of the backslidden members and making efforts to aid in their return.

Do we eagerly await the return of backslidden brethren? Do we act in a proactive manner to bring them back to Christ? Are we snatching them out of the fire of eternal destruction? Hopefully, we are throwing out the lifeline to those sinking in sin.

1 Verdict with Ted Cruz | iHeart