As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
This could very well be one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Actually it’s not but it ranks right up there among my favorites. I have written about it many times before, and each time I do, God speaks to me differently, yet with the same message.
We all know people in our lives who live a life of sin. Not just the occasional sin, but their entire life revolves around sin. For some of us, they are family members. For some of us they are close friends. For some of us they are our own spouse. For some of us they are co-workers. For some of us, they are acquaintances. For some of us all we have to do is look in the mirror.
I know many saints in my life. I know just as many serious sinners. Both are welcome in my home. Both are welcome at my table. We are to love our fellow human being with gentleness and charity and that includes the sinners. No one is below you or I. Our society attempts to quantify the degree of sin. We tend to think that pedophilia and rape is the worst of the worst of sins. We tend to think that embezzling money from a wealthy corporation isn’t as bad. Murder in the first degree is worse than murder in the 2nd degree. Fornication isn’t as bad as adultery. Skipping church on sunday for hockey isn’t as bad as complete apostasy. But in the end, isn’t the result of the sin the same? Separation from God. Separation from His Grace. Either we go to Heaven or we go to hell. We all sin, and the result of my sins vs a pediphile or rapist is the same if we are all unrepentant.
We all need the same thing. We all need the medicine of the Doctor. Jesus said today that he’s that Doctor. Us sinners are the sick who seek him. We seem to give more time and effort in going to the doctor for healing, and that’s a good thing, but shouldn’t we be taking care of our souls with just as much zeal?
Yes it’s ok to hang out with the sinners, just as long as you’re not sinning with them. If God has changed your life, share with your fellow sinners how that’s happened and the impact it’s had. Jesus hung out with the sinners so he could bring them to him. We are called to do the same. To bring sinners to Jesus. This isn’t going to happen in a one time knock on the door and asking them if they’d like to know Jesus. True discipleship takes time. It’s relationship building. We can’t get to know our best friend in a five minute conversation. No we grow in our relationship with each other buy getting to know each other and learning from each other and sharing with each other. That’s what Jesus did.
Oh, just one more thing to ponder: Am I willing to drop everything for Jesus? Am I willing to make a commitment everyday to Him just as I do to my spouse or job place? Am I willing to share Jesus with my friends?