Monday, September 29, 2014

friend of sinners

" The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”"

Matthew 11:19

The one "accusation" that could be made about Jesus, that Jesus Himself claimed was tue was that He is a "friend of sinners". He associated with people as they were. He sat down to eat and drink with "sinners". It was an association so close that the religious leaders saw Him as a glutton and a drunkard. It was not that Jesus abused God's good gifts, it was that He celebrated God's good gifts with "sinners" - the wrong group of people in the minds of the religious elitists. But it is because Jesus is close to people as they are that He can offer rest for the souls of the weary and heavy-laden (Matthew 11:28-30).

I ask myself: "Could I bear the same 'offense' as Jesus did?" Hardly. Remnants of my old fundamentalist upbringing and its stodgy self-righteousness can keep me from any association with people who need Christ... just like the enemies of my Lord would like it. I am so wrapped around being among churched sinners that I seldom can associate with the unchurched ones! And let me tell you, I know some whopping big sins in the lives of the saints... including myself! My wife is ten times better at caring for those outside the church than I am. I need to go with her instincts on this. I should learn from her what I think she sees naturally through Jesus. It's good to be friends with those who aren't yet Christians.

I'm not sure that the current evangelical church circles in which I am spinning can really bear to get Jesus' reputation assigned to us. It wouldn't put best-sellers in our local Christian bookstore. How about "40 days of eating and drinking"? Flat sales for sure. 

And when I see some "upstarts" try to be like Jesus in this matter, they only make a claim, winding up sinning with the sinners more than eating with them and loving them like Jesus. Some of them have become indistinguishable from the world. Jesus maintained both truth and holiness while being loving and associating nearly exclusively with the lost and the neediest people that He came to save. I have just got to follow my Master more closely in this matter!

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