Nothing breaks my heart more than a person not wanting to come to church fearing judgment by what they wear or how they look. The church has portrayed such an unwelcoming image, that people do not feel drawn to seek Jesus. We have poorly represented the One who laid down his life to save us sinners. I don’t know where the idea came from that someone had to “have it all together” or “clean up their act” before they can come to Jesus.
Jesus had the reputation of hanging out with the “scum of the earth.” Many of the ones he called to be his followers and apostles were tax collectors who robbed their own people and sided with the Romans. Also, prostitutes, lepers, blind, poor, cripple and formally demon possessed, they all wanted to follow him. People who were utterly helpless, because of what society perceived as, “their sin or that of their parents” (Exodus 20:5), he welcomed with open arms. There were no social services to aide them, if the infirmed were without family or someone to pity them, they would die.
Jesus showed God’s love to those who were without help and without hope, by healing them, feeding them and teaching them God’s true ways. The outcasts of society were the people he called his friends. Mark recants an event that should remind us how Jesus taught. He had just called Levi, a local tax collector to be his follower.
“That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus). But when some of the teachers of the religious law, who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, “why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”” (Mark 2: 13-17 NLT).
As Christians, we have all been guilty of the “sin of the Pharisee” at some point in our Christian life. We have looked down on others and passed judgment on them and their lifestyle. Born Again Christians are those who have experienced the Lord's grace and redeeming power. Their life is growing and being filled with love for all people. All of us are a work in progress!
I feel a need to apologize to all those who came looking for Jesus and found judgment from those who claim to represent Christ. That is not who Jesus is, he loves you and gave his life to pay the penalty of your sin. Sin means living life on your own terms, completely disregarding the awesome power of God’s presence. Jesus came to give you new life, restore what was lost, and not burden you with a set of rules and regulations to follow. The only thing he asks in return is that you learn to obey him and trust him, no matter what comes your way.
If this has been your experience, please try again. Jesus will not refuse you. Seek him out in His Word, start in the New Testament and read the four accounts called the Gospels, which means “Good News” and you will discover the real Jesus. Come to him in a simple prayer, admit you have sinned against him, ask for forgiveness and thank him for his compassionate love for you. If you do this you will received his gift of salvation and eternal security.
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