Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jesus: Friend of Sinners, Part II

It is clear that Jesus does not condone the openly sinful lifestyles of these notorious sinners.
His words to the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8 prove as much. "Go and sin no more" or "Go and leave your life of sin" proves that Jesus acknowledged the woman was at fault and He told her what to do: stop living as a notorious sinner. What Jesus did not do is condemn the woman in such a way that made her think she had no hope of redemption.

How often do we write people off as lost causes?

"He is just to into the party scene to ever come to the LORD."

"She has slept around so much not even God could forgive all that sin."

"They would never come to church with me unless we were having a drunken dance."

Of course, we may not say these things, but do we think them? I am afraid we often do. We believe some people are just to hardened of sinners to come to Christ. Yet, according to the Gospels, it was hardened sinners that most willingly responded to the message of Jesus when presented.

Think about in the Book of Acts when Paul has little success in Macedonia and Athens among the intellectual and spiritual Greeks, but reaches Corinth (Sin City of the ancient world) and he has a fruitful ministry.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That group 'lost' ranges from the church goer who has never obeyed the Gospel to the wildest, notorious sinner who has never darkened a church house door. When we realize that to be almost saved is to be totally lost, then perhaps we will go out and meet sinners where they are and bring them to Christ.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jesus: Friend of Sinners

What was the mission of Jesus?

I was asked to address this topic and I keep coming back to the reason for this blog: to let people know that Jesus came to call sinners to Himself.

The calling of Levi (or Matthew) is the text for today's observations. Found in Matthew 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5, the story is strikingly similar in all three accounts. Jesus calls Levi, goes to a party at his house, the scribes question the disciples and Jesus responds.

Jesus says it is not the well who need the care of the physician but those who are sick. In the same way, He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Is your first repose to this statement thankfulness or repulsion? Did Jesus come to call you or are you too self-righteous to receive the message of Jesus?

Now, I think we recognize that all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but Jesus seems to be talking about 'notorious' sinners. That's right. Prostitutes, addicts, adulterers and murderers...those are the ones Jesus came to call. Perhaps when we recognize that we also are as wrecked and wretched as any other sinners, then we can be more like Matthew's party guests and less like the scribes. More willing to accept Jesus and less likely to question His motives towards us and others.

More to come...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Great Commission, Part 2

We know as believers that we are called to take the message of what Christ has done for us and in us to others, but have we ever considered the reasons why?
Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God with everything you have and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:38-39). If we love God, we will want to take His saving message to others. If we truly love others, we will want them to hear that message as often and as clearly as possible.
"Go ye into all the world..." is not just a message for missionaries and gospel preachers. It could be stated as "Go me into all my world..." My world of school, work or, even yes, church to share the gospel message of good news for sinners. Jesus is calling people to repent, to change their lives, but He uses our mouths to do His ministry. It is much like the old song says, "He has no hands but our hands to do His work today, He has no feet but our feet to lead men to His way..."
If we love God and we love other people, living out the Great Commission should be second nature to us as Christians. We teach people to be followers of Jesus which leads them to repentance and baptism and then we continue to teach them to go out and convert others as well.
What a privilege to be given such a charge! Let's go out and live for the Master by fulfilling His Great Commission.