It seems one of the most common things I run into when talking to others about Christ, is the practice of deflecting the message and trying to apply it to some one else. What about so and so? Look what they did! They're even worse than I am! It's as if they are trying to determine their place in line. The problem is that they are often jockeying for position in the southbound lane. There are no comparative levels of righteousness, only sinners fighting for rank among the roll of the condemned. Maybe they think that God is going to reach down only so far into the pit of sinners and no farther, and that if they doggie paddle a little closer to the top, over just a few more heads their odds of salvation will increase.
What ever their thoughts, their clearest motivation for deflecting the sword of truth away from themselves, is to escape facing the reality of their own condition. The fate of another's soul makes for good conversation, but the sting of conviction shuts the mouth.
In the Gospel of Luke, we see an example of how Jesus dealt with man's inclination to avoid the pointing of their own finger. In chapters 11 &12, Jesus sets about correcting the many wrong views the Jews held of God, his righteousness, and his kingdom. In verses 54-56 of chapter 11, he rebukes the people for being able to forecast the weather, yet they were not able to see the work of God right before their eyes. In 57 through the end of the chapter, he chides them for their apathy; their not even putting forth the effort to be reconciled to God. As you can see, Jesus is hitting them hard, bringing their sins right up to their faces.
So how did they respond? With brokenness and burdened under the weight of their sin? Not exactly, I'll let Luke explain.
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.( Luke 13:1)What does that have to do with your own personal guilt before a Holy Judge? Does Jesus fall for their ploy?
And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-5)Jesus put the smack down. There was no escape. He let them know that their only concern in these matters is for themselves. Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish! It doesn't matter your position in line for it's only headed one place.
Now I know what you're thinking, silly people, why couldn't they get that he was talking about them? Remember that thought the next time you leave church knowing exactly who needed to hear that sermon.
So what do we do when we encounter this situation while sharing Jesus with someone? Do what Jesus did silly! When they talk about the hypocrites in the church, ask them how that will relieve their guilt. Always bring it back to them, reminding them that in the day we stand before God in judgment giving account of our lives, the only sins that will matter, will be our own.
Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish!