We know who “those people” are.
They are the ones who are different than us. They look different and they speak different. They’ve been married a time or two (maybe more) than we have. Their language is coarser than ours. They like to smoke, drink, and chew, and worse, they go with those who do. Maybe they’ve made some really poor financial decisions or their life seems like one emergency after another. They may not care that much about God or Jesus, and the concepts of church and religion are offensive to them.
Or maybe, they have everything one could ever want or need. Their lives are perfect and they are living the dream. Never divorced, 3 perfect kids and the highest moral character. They may even attend your church because that’s what good people do.
Yesterday in our staff meeting, we read from Philippians 3:12-21. As we reflected, we talked about how those who do not know Christ are headed for eternal separation from God (we call that “Hell”- but that’s another post), how we might minister to them and share the good news of Jesus Christ, then ultimately, we ended up with a conversation about “being in the world but not of it.”
This morning, I read from Matthew 9- specifically when Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him. Jesus and the disciples would be invited over to Matthew’s home as dinner guests. Who else was there?
“many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners”
Now, I wasn’t there, but I know what happens when a bunch of disreputable sinners get together. Why? Because I used to be one.
Guess who else was there…the Pharisees. And their response?
“why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
Verses 12 and 13 from Matthew 9 are amazing. In verse 12, Jesus seems to placate the Pharisees, “healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do”. Surely the Pharisees loved this statement, in their minds they likely heard, “all of THOSE PEOPLE are sick and diseased…what’s wrong with them?”
Then, Jesus says this, “Check your scripture, especially this: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ I am not here for those who think they are righteous, but for those who know they are sinners“.
The narrow path calls believers to be in relationship with people. It’s actually ok to be friends with people who are not believers (I wrote more about this in a previous post).
The narrow path calls believers to be aware of their own sinfulness.
The narrow path calls believers to show mercy.
The narrow path calls believers to set aside our self-righteousness and be with those who are in need of the Doctor.
We begin this narrowest of paths by simply being with people.
Will you walk with me?