I John 3:26 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” Jesus-followers are to strive everyday to become more like their Lord. But we have failed to be like Jesus in one crucial area — being a friend of sinners. We read in Matthew 11:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
To the three charges leveled at Jesus — being a glutton, a drunkard, and a friend of sinners — I believe Jesus would have replied, “Not guilty. Not guilty. GUILTY!” We saw that one of the most famous teachings of Jesus, the story of the prodigal son, was given because “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Lk. 15:2). I copied and pasted my understanding of Luke 15 in our previous post.
Let’s be honest — We followers of Jesus are NOT friends of sinners. We sometimes are hardly friends of each other. All of us could use a primer in basic friendship, but we are desperately in need of the challenge to be like Jesus and to develop friendships with those who need Him!
There are a variety of EXCUSES which we Jesus-followers give for not being like Him in this area. Some which occur to me — and which we will discuss in subsequent posts — are the tyranny of time, the fear of compromise, the curse of criticism, no interest in listening, etc. We’re going to grind away at this one topic: our absolute need to develop serious, strategic, sincere relationships with lost people. You will be tempted to abandon this blog, but I plead with you to stick with me. This really is important. (to be continued)