Bonoeffer, in his work "The Cost of Discipleship" said that "the source of the disciple's life lies exclusively in his fellowship with Jesus Christ. He possesses his righteousness only within that association, never outside it. That is why his righteousness can never become an objective criterion to be applied at will. He is a disciple not because he possesses such a new standard, but only because of Jesus Christ, the Mediator and very Son of God." (183)
So here is the truth: standing under grace, I am a sinner that has been forgiven only through the grace of the One who died on the cross to make me worthy to stand before him clean.
And if this is true, if I am only forgiven through the One who forgives, not through my own "righteousness" or "good deeds," then I have no place to judge anyone else. The only worth I have is as a beloved child of God. And that is what we all are - even the non-Christians, the atheists, the ones who cast God aside - we have all been paid for by Christ - the difference is that I have chosen to follow Christ's lead and am trying to make myself one with Him. Others are not. They do not recognize the immense love that God's provided for them, the free love, the love that springs joy overflowing in my heart.
So then, how do we approach the sinner? What is the church's role in seeing someone commit sin?
"In the love of Christ, we know all about every conceivable sin and guilt; for we know how Jesus suffered, and how all men have been forgiven at the foot of the cross. Christian love sees the fellow-man under the cross and therefore sees with clarity. If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. But if we are on the look-out for evil in others, our real motive is obviously to justify ourselves, for we are seeking to escape punishment for our own sins by passing judgment on others, and are assuming by implication that the Word of God applied to ourselves in one way, and to others in another" (185).
For we should be ever aware that Christ is the ruler of our hearts. We should be ever aware that we never once deserved heaven. We never once deserved love. We never once deserved forgiveness. We never once deserved Christ. We are standing here because of grace. So how can we then, approach a sinner, and judge them for the very sins that we ourselves are guilty of? For our very worth, our very righteousness comes only through Christ! It is only through Him - so approach the sinner knowing that he is the same as you - under the grace of Christ, and then open his eyes to the love and grace that's open to him too. For we are one in the same sinner. And we are all beloved by God - some have yet to recognize that yet, and that is just sad. It's not something to be angry about. Your self-righteousness is the greatest sin of all - the idea that you are God.
"There is only one judgment, one law, and one grace. Henceforth, the disciple will look upon other men as forgiven sinners who owe their lives to the love of God."