Author Jonathan Noyes
Published on 07/24/2023
Christian Living

Recognize the Person Behind the Struggle

Behind every objection is a person struggling to escape the snares of the devil. Let’s not forget the value of those we speak to as we share the gospel.


I was in Minneapolis, and I had just given my talk on suicide. It’s a really heavy talk, and the room was packed—probably 300 students. Whenever I give the talk, I’m always confronted afterward with the reality of where these students are in their lives, and there’s usually a line of students who want to talk to me. Some push back at me. Most cry and want to express themselves and the struggles that they’re going through. I had one girl come up to me—I think she said she was 19—she said, “I’m a Christian. I love Jesus. I’ve been a churchgoer my whole life. My parents are Christians.” Her youth pastor and her best friends have told her she can’t come to the youth group anymore because she’s wrestling with her sexual identity. Her pastor sat her down and said, “Until you sort this out and come to an understanding that you are a heterosexual female, you’re no longer welcome in youth group.” That is incredibly damaging. It’s also just ludicrous to me, as a pastor.

We are all struggling. There are forces tearing at the very fabric of reality, and each one of us has our own issues. We, as Christians, tend to highlight one person’s sin and make it somehow worse than everybody else’s. Meanwhile, we’ve got people in the church who are getting divorced, there are certainly people who are watching pornography, there are certainly people who are participating in any other myriad of sexual sins, and we turn a blind eye to it, or we counsel them but allow them in fellowship, which is the right way to do it, I think, as long as there’s repentance there. So, I just felt bad for this young girl. The condemnation that she had been receiving for a year was leading her to think maybe she should just die, and that’s just terrible to me.

Jesus came to make us more human, not less. We have a better answer. We have a better ethic. We have a better way to look at reality. We have the true story of reality, and we want to be pointing people—remembering that they’re people—to that at all times. Behind every objection is a person struggling to escape the snares of the devil, and, often, they don’t even know they’re ensnared.

This is why, when I approach this topic, I want to approach the issue from, kind of, another angle. I want to remember that we all struggle. Francis Schaefer was really clear on this. He says something to the effect that we all struggle in this life until glory, and we bond together in that. We bear each other’s burdens. So, we’ve got to remember that we struggle. Our struggles might look different than someone else’s struggles, but we struggle, nevertheless, and as we seek to, as Paul says, “destroy arguments raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” let’s not forget the value and worth of the human being that we’re talking to.

Jesus came to make us more human, not less human. This is why our speech must always be with grace as though seasoned with salt, so that you’ll know how you should respond to each person. Philosophies of the world and its human governments might gladly lead people straight to Hell, but our job as ambassadors of Christ is to rescue people with the truth of the gospel. Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth. He’s the Lord of lords, and his word and his law will govern history forever, and they always have. It’s in him we find our identity. We have to put this stuff on and own it, friends. That’s, I think, how we need to start approaching it. Offering a better way.