Earlier this month we went on a road trip to Williamsburg Virginia to see Colonial Williamsburg as well as Jamestown and the battle fields at Yorktown. It was a long trip, just about 3,000 miles round trip as well as the driving while at our destination. Along for the ride were my wife Gail and my mom. Along the way we listened to a number of CDs as music helps me while driving. One song got me to thinking. It was “Jesus friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns. It fit well with the post I was writing about Luke 17:1-4 where Jesus admonishes us not to cause others to sin. The first verse and chorus are:
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Yeah…
I believe one of the main obstacles to people coming to Jesus is how Christians act. We are quick to point out the sins we see in others but too slow to show these same sinners the love of Jesus. As I slowly make my way through the Gospel of Luke one thing is very noticeable, Jesus hung around sinners. He ate with them. Almost the entire middle of Luke is the telling of what Jesus said to the Pharisees while dining with them.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew, was a tax collector. In the first century being a tax collector was tantamount to being a thief. One of the arguments of the Pharisees was that Jesus associated with sinners. Yes Jesus judged their sins but Jesus also loved them and forgave them. Today we tend more to the judgmental than the forgiving.
What can we do? First and foremost is to be accepting of the person. Jesus called out the sinners and ministered to them. He did not dwell on their sins but on their salvation. He did not give up on sinners. Read how often He talked with the Pharisees. Second we need to make our churches open to sinners and welcome people into our churches. Make them feel at home. Remember that the new comer is just as we were once. If we spend more time loving others rather than pointing fingers, God’s church will grow. If we spend time pointing fingers then our churches will wither. Third we need to be out in the world proclaiming the love of Jesus. Jesus’ final command was for us to go to all the world proclaiming the Good News and baptizing all in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One final thought not really connected with today’s message. On our trip to Williamsburg Gail and I were blessed to get to meet one of my fellow bloggers, John Paine with Veracity. John and his wife hosted a small dinner party for us and we spent a delightful evening of good food and good fellowship. Other than my friend Glenn, John is the first fellow blogger I have had the privilege to meat in the flesh. Once again, thanks John for a great evening.
Have a blessed day,