How to Understand Spiritually Lost People and Give Them Directions to God
The past year or two have been a period of growth for me. Specifically, God has been prodding me to be more gospel-oriented. While I’ve heard passages such as the “great commission” all my life, it wasn’t until a year-and-a-half ago I realized it could be directed at me. And then, every time I opened the Bible, there it was, staring me in the face: “Share Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Go to those who don’t know Him yet and let them know!”
The trick, as in so much of life, is balance. Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes is all about knocking off the pushy, plastic, tract-dependent type of evangelism and changing our thinking to looking at people as “lost”.
The author calls his new mindset “lostology” (the study of lost-ness and seeking the lost), and uses examples from his own life and the Bible to help us get away from the seminary courses and toward actually reaching out to people around us.
Understanding Lost People
I found the author’s lessons on “lost people” very helpful. He organizes all his major points into “laws of lostology” (one per chapter) such as:
Being lost can be fun.
You don’t always know you’re lost.
Asking for directions is embarrassing.
In church since I was in utero, it’s easy for me to forget that others don’t have the same foundations of understanding that I have. Phrases like “Jacob and Esau”, “Paul and Silas”, “that passage in Corinthians where…” won’t mean anything to my non-Christian friends.
Likewise, we in the church think of those outside as miserable, and obviously in need of a change. But lots of unbelievers have found something else to fill their lives, and go along happy and oblivious to their spiritual needs. For these people, it’s useless to throw blanket statements like, “Jesus has the answer!” or “Do you want to be happy forever? Jesus!” when they’re not actually asking any questions or feeling unsatisfied with their current life. (Vessels of Honor did a wonderful job illustrating this in a fictional work.) The Holy Spirit must work on their hearts first, before anything we say will make sense.
The Search and Rescue Workers
The book focuses on evangelism as “search and rescue” work, heading out into a dark world to bring spiritual directions to the lost. But sometimes there are good and bad ways to share these directions.
Ever asked for directions and gotten the “you’re so stupid” eye-roll? Even if you didn’t get the eye-roll, did it feel like everyone nearby was doing it internally?
Lost people are not stupid — they’re just lost. We were once as lost as they were. They need a map, not a lecture.
The author pulls Biblical examples from the parables and Jesus’ interactions with people. While talking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus didn’t make snide comments or talk over her head. He let her know He understood exactly where she was hurting, and told her honestly what she needed to be healed.
In the parable of the prodigal son, when the son finally comes to his senses and heads home, the father doesn’t say, “I told you so.” He hugs his son and celebrates, because he loves him.
*😂tearing up; give me a moment*
I work in retail, and sometimes I feel like throttling the next person who asks, “Do you work here?” while staring at my company-emblazoned smock. But Jesus in me leads me to smile, and respond in kindness and patience. They just need directions to get on the right track.
(That reminds me of another Law of Lostology: When the lost is found, celebrate!)
Another important point that encouraged me was the idea of building bridges. Shoving tracts into someone’s hand and walking away might be easier. But investing in people’s lives, developing trust, and establishing yourself as someone reliable – with reliable answers – is the method most evangelism has been done over the centuries. Jesus genuinely loves and cares about the people around us — we should do the same.
A Valuable Resource
The book is well-organized, with lots of lists and bold section breaks for easy reading. The author also has an easy style and quiet, frequently self-deprecating humor.
While there wasn’t as much heavy referencing of Bible verses as I might have expected, the lessons felt very Biblically grounded, pulling from Jesus’ and the disciples’ relationships with the lost, and foundational Christian principles.
As always, the chapters about getting out into the community and making friends with non-Christians were scary and challenging. However, there was a lot of encouragement and advice in this book as well.
If a little boy was lost in the woods near your house, wouldn’t you go out and help search for him? Especially if there were bears in the woods? Especially if it was your boy?
Maybe one day I will have the same passion to search for the spiritually lost around me as I would for a lost child. When that happens, I’ll know it’s all the work of God.
Kimia Wood lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, writing novels…and once in a while having awkward conversations about God with her un-churched friends. Does it ever get un-awkward?
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