Many people of our generation consider Christians to be judgmental, bigots, haters, “holier than thou” people. People who look down on you and are always ready to criticize and call you names if you don’t do what’s “proper.”
Let me be clear at the very beginning: this should not be!
When you read the Gospels, something else will catch your attention: Jesus loved spending time with “sinners,” with people who were flawed, imperfect and of dubious reputation.
On one such occasion, recorded in Luke 7, a woman, considered to be of lousy reputation by others, anointed the feet of Jesus with costly perfume.
The host of Jesus, the Pharisee Simon, muses to himself: “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39, NIV). Jesus answers him with the parable of the debtors, one owing the smaller and the other the more significant amount of money, both having their debts cancelled.
Jesus’ question was: who would love the creditor more?
Simon answers: “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven” (Luke 7:43).
That was the answer to Simon’s difficulty: the greater sinner you are, the more you will love Jesus when he forgives you!
On another occasion, Jesus invites Matthew, the tax collector, to be his follower. Matthew, and the tax collectors were generally known as greedy people, taking more tax money than the Romans prescribed.
Needless to say, they were hated by Jews as traitors.
After Matthew follows Jesus, Jesus goes to his house and takes a part in the feast, eating with other shady characters from his friendship circle. The Pharisees protest with the question: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16).
On hearing this, Jesus answers them: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
Wow, what kind of a great guy was Jesus!
I think the clear message in these texts and the similar ones is that Jesus loved spending his time with sinners.
The reason he came to Earth was to save these people.
This is how he put it himself: “For the Son of Man (a title for Jesus) came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
That was his mission!
Then, when he finds someone who is lost, and that person is saved, this is what happens in heaven: “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). When a person finds Jesus, there is a party in heaven!
Do you feel lost today?
Do you feel like your character is nowhere near where you want it to be?
Do you feel rejected by people, criticized by supposed Christians, judged for what you do?
Do not despair!
There is someone who loves you and understands you!
Jesus, the friend of sinners, embraces you in his arms and tells you that there is still a chance for you.
And so should the true Christians!
He came to save the people like you! He even gave his life so people like you can be accepted and loved!
And also ultimately transformed into something better! So don’t despair; take the hand of Jesus and walk on towards your destiny!
Pastor Bob Babic,
Trail Seventh-day Adventist Church