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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Should Christians Be the Friends of Sinners?

Most Christians do not like lost people. Sinners don't like Christians either. Who wants someone to condemn you with their self righteousness? I know I don't and I believe non-believers don't care for it either.

That doesn't mean that Christians don't gravitate toward churches who "preach the word" in such a way that sinners must leave "convicted." Honestly, I think the lost feel unloved more than they feel convicted. I believe they are hurt more by our condemnation than by their own sin. Our condemnation sends them away from Christ who is their salvation. However, this attitude is great for growing a church. You get people who need to feel superior by looking down on others. You will never run short on gathering the self-righteous.

Their sin is not different from ours in severity. Theirs may be more noticeable and they have not hidden it as well as we have. We call gossip "sharing a concern." We call hatred "standing up for what is right." This does not change what it is. We are sinners who have renamed our sins so that they become socially acceptable.

Yet, they do not necessarily notice our hypocrisy as much as they notice our lack of love. Couldn't we stay away from sin and love those who do not yet know Christ? Couldn't we be the people that lost people come to because they knew we would love them regardless of what they have done? You really don't have to approve sin to love sinners, do you?

The Pharisees thought it was terrible that the tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus at His table. I fell under conviction as I read this. Would sinners join me at my table? How have I presented myself to the world? Would they see me as standing for my faith while loving them into His kingdom? Would I sit with the saved and forget the lost?

A few years ago I had surgery on my neck to replace a herniated disk. I couldn't drive for a month so I would leave my office and meet the people who worked in the stores near the church. I met some great guys at Blockbuster video. I got to know everyone of them pretty well. One of them said, "I don't go to church but if I ever do, I am coming to yours." That was a tremendous compliment.

That is not my state today. I keep myself so busy that I don't spend any time with people who don't come to church. Yes, I make some phone calls to those who have visited our church but the fact that they have already come means that they are people who come to church. Could let people know that I will love them with the love of my Lord Jesus without a hidden agenda? Could I do so even if they never came to my church? Would I do so even if they never come any closer to knowing the Lord?

If I am to become like Jesus, I must.

Matthew 9:10-13 (NIV)
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

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