I am one of those rare people who became a Christian just by reading the Bible. When I first became a Christian, there was no Christians around me to help me understand what was happening to me. I set off hitchhiking across country. Many people that I met on that trip tried to convince me that this was wrong. Finally, I met some true Christians in Wyoming, and the conversation warmed my heart. After some more adventures, I ran into them again in Colorado, and they took me back to the city in Idaho where they attended the University. They tried to be my mentor, but they were too conservative and law oriented for the semi-hippie that I was.
Then I realized that God lead me to that town because there was one man that I had no problem listening to. He once said that people who he kinda knew called him the best friend they ever had. He was always astonished by each person’s hunger for people who cared. They were so isolated from people that one man who cared, listened and gave just a little advice would be the closest contact that lonely person had. For me, he didn’t lay down a bunch of Christian rules that I had to follow. He promoted a life by faith. He understood that if he could get a believer to live by faith, God would change the persons behavior.
In the years since, I have seen so many Christian leaders who impose a set of laws. Sometimes they are general laws like you must pray and read your Bible every day, and other times it is more specific laws like you must not drink, or if you listen to that music, you are not spiritual. In Romans, it is shown that laws have never made anyone spiritual. Everyone fails to obey some of the laws and just feels condemned but gains a knowledge of needing a savior. Yet despite the clear teaching, people go against the Bible and impose laws on others. The result is when people are hurting and reach out, the “spiritual” jump on them with a ton of laws that are supposed to be the cure. The result is another hurting Christian who has suddenly learned to put on the Christian mask and never admit problems again.
I am in favor of true Godly mentors. Mind you, my gifts lie more in the knowledge and prophecy (as in forth telling) areas and not like my wife, Regina who gets people who seek her counseling. She follows more in the Romans 14 mold. There are two problem areas mentioned before getting to the right attitude. The strong look down on the weak for needing to follow all those rules. The weak despise the strong for living such libertarian lives. (We are not dealing with sin in the behaviors.) God says, each of those is my servant. It is my job to see they grow in Godliness. Who are you to to judge them for not living your style of Godliness? Instead, Romans 14 promotes a type of caring that is like a nurturing mother. I call the third type of person, the meek. She cheers the child’s victories and helps them to strive and feel like winners. Good mothers don’t get jealous of a child’s successes, nor does she suppress the child’s growth, but seeks that all her children grow into powerful adults. What a model for mentors, teaching people to trust in God and go from victory to victory. No masks here, when people feel accepted. Instead, they can face the issue and learn more about walking by faith.