None of us like criticism. But criticism from those who profess to know God is especially painful. Jesus (and John the Baptist) get criticized in Matthew 11. John is throught to have been demonized because of his frugality (he wore a camel’s hair cloak and regularly ate a lunch of locusts).
The Lord Jesus is criticized for His indulgence. He was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard, accusations which had no evidence to support them. But He was also criticized for being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” To this third charge, I believe, Jesus would have responded, “GUILTY AS CHARGED!”
We followers of Jesus need to be charged as well. But the charge against most of us is that we are not like Jesus! We eat Christian cookies, read Christian books, have Christian wallpaper, and hang around only with Christians!
There is a world of difference between being a “friend of the world” (James 4:4) and being “a friend of sinners” (Mt. 11). One makes us enemies of God; the other makes us like the Lord Jesus.
We saw that THE MYTH OF GODLINESS is the commonly-held belief that the fewer non-Christian friends we have, the godlier we are. No, the less like Jesus we are. We saw from Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 that He has strategically left us in the world to continue His work. Believers in Jesus are not called to escape the world, but to serve Him, protected by God. We are to be IN the world but not OF the world. (to be continued)