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How do I minister to an unbelieving friend?

Let me share with you a couple of passages in Scripture and provide a little contrast / comparison. Hopefully the Lord will be able to use it to shed some light on how He wants to handle our wayward sister.

The passages are John 4:3-30, 39-42 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.

John 4:3-30, 39-42

He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, ” “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly. ” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and you {people} say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am {He.“} And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?” So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I {have} done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him…
And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I {have} done.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, {I have decided} to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump {of dough}? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are {in fact} unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within {the church}? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
These passages seems on the surface to be dealing with two people living an immoral lifestyle yet the response of Jesus seems so much different than that of Paul. Paul’s counsel is clearly to tell the guy to shape up or get shipped out. Jesus, though He acknowledges her continuing moral failure, does not offer her the same choice but rather moves on to the subject of true worship. What constitutes the correct response when faced with a lifestyle moral failure? I think the Scripture provides some helpful insight. I think the Scripture shows that our response should be tempered by the means by which the guilty part got into their fix.

In the case of the Samaritan woman, we know a few things: (1) she is a Samaritan, (2) she is a woman and (3) she was living with a 6th man out of wedlock. Because she is a Samaritan, she is part of an ethnic group that everybody rejects. The Jews see her as a product of an immoral union between an unfaithful Jew and a godless gentile. The gentiles see her as a Jew. Neither acknowledge any human value to a Samaritan. Because she is a woman, we know that she never divorced any of her husbands. They all rejected her. Women simply had no legal means of divorcing anyone in those days. Because she was living out of wedlock, we know she had no self-respect. By now she was so hungry for acceptance, she would do anything to get it. The point is simply this: This woman did not choose an immoral lifestyle as an act of rebellion or license. She chose it because it was the only thing she understood. Her drive in life was to be loved and give love. Jesus showed her the true way to receive and give love and ultimately enjoy human relationships.

In the case of the young Corinthian, Paul says: “…immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles.” What he is saying about this young man is that he has consciously decided to take his Christian liberty and convert it into ungodly license. His motives were lust and rebellion. He did it because he chose to do it with malice of forethought. Nothing drove him to this behavior. With cold blooded calculation, he seduced his father’s wife, brought dishonor on his family, his church and his God.

It is possible that this woman is in a great deal of pain and in desperation she is doing what seems “natural” to her. She may be trying to escape into a comfort zone of rejected people. There is much truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.” In spite of their bravado there is an enormous amount of misery in the homosexual community. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 2:3-11 (particularly v. 7).

I then encourage you to lay these thoughts before the Lord. My prayers are with you.