I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a friend of sinners. Mostly since I found out two Sundays ago that the man who has served me many Seirra Mists, enchiladas, cheese dips, and who fed me my birthday dessert and sang to me, was arrested for two counts of 2nd degree murder.
Manuel Cazares was a server at Gran Rio – the restaurant where you are most likely to find my family. We go there often – Brian brushes up on his Spanish and I try to understand. Brian tried sharing the Gospel with Manuel about a year and a half ago and Manuel told him he was, “too bad” and that he would think about serious things when he got older. I’m praying he is thinking about serious things now.
I’ve wondered if this post is appropriate. I am not defending Manuel; his actions cannot be defended. However, as a Christian, I have been convicted that this situation is not being handled well. I am deeply saddened by the way he is being thought about and talked about in the community, and even among Christians.
At the core, Manuel is still a man without the Lord.
So, can be done? The crimes have been committed, we cannot bring his two victims back. Are we supposed to gloss over the details and say everything is “okay” and “He’s probably a good man at heart”? I don’t think so.
- Resist the Urge to Slander
The facts are all in the open, so are the stories (they are everywhere). We know that Manuel murdered his ex-girlfriend and another man – why do we replay that over and over? When you feel the urge to gossip, or dwell on sin, remember this: “but for the grace of God go I.” (John Bradford) We cannot expect a sinner to do anything but sin. And without Christ, any one of us could be in the same situation.
When you feel yourself about to slander, or think damning thoughts towards Manuel or any other non-believer, pray for that person. That’s right, pray. Pray that his horrific sins would lead him to Christ. Pray that Christians would reach out to him and share the Gospel to a softened heart. Pray that the families of the victims would be wrapped in the loving arms of our savior. Pray for the other workers at Gran Rio and Mi Mexico that they would see the gravity of sin and turn to Christ.
- Look for Opportunities – and take them
Don’t let this all be in vain. Look around for opportunities to share the love of Christ and do it. I regret never asking Manuel to come to my house for a meal, and I regret not trying harder to share. His salvation is not in my/our hands, but there is a responsibility given to Christians to reach out and try.
Jesus was a friend of sinners, and consequently many of them followed after Him. There is hope in the cross. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Manuel turned to Christ and was able to minister to other murderers in prison? He isn’t going to do that on his own. Please pray and leave the condemning to the only Righteous Judge.