Jesus & Sinners
Why was it that Jesus loved the company of sinners? Some would say it was because this segment of society needed Him the most. I think it was because there, in the midst of those who were often shunned by organized religion, Jesus felt the most welcomed and accepted. Jesus prefers hunger to a holier than thou attitude. He prefers pursuit to pride and prejudice; He prefers authenticity of heart to awkward rigidness.
You see that guy with all the tattoos, it’s an expression of his creativity that has likely been rejected time and again as he attempted to show the world who he was. There are those seeking solace through a substance, often yearning to numb the pain of trying to fit in or finding out that they just couldn’t. Those wounds cut deepest when they come from Christians, those who bear the Name of the One Who would never represent the Father with false expressions of veneered affection.
The love Jesus carried was a magnet to the marginalized. Jesus came to pick up the fragments and infuse lives with hope, joy, and possibility. This is why He came into this world railing against the religious, those pretenders and play actors. (That’s the literal Greek understanding of the term hypocrite – you know those people Jesus was always saying “Woe to you” to?)
Religiosity looks down its nose through the lenses of its self-imposed rules of righteousness and is blind to the value of the person. We must love each other in our imperfections instead of judging because of them. Jesus’ looks of love healed and restored – never condemned. His eyes burn with loving vision of all we can be – not shaming us for all we are not yet. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) – He was too immersed in loving people to label them.
How can we forget this? How have we moved so far away from the people who knew how to accept one another, enjoy life, and celebrate each other’s uniqueness? I’m not saying we need to live less holy and more sinful lives but we certainly need to live in a way that more resembles the magnetism Jesus had for those who hadn’t met Him yet. Religion often stifles our liberty and steals our joy. We have traded rules for relationship and self-righteousness for selflessness and stooping to lift the fallen. How quickly we forget how far He has brought us and the great mercy that reached down into our pit to bring us out. Oh, that our hearts could be shattered from the pretense of practice and pierced again by the compassion that ran through His veins.
I think Jesus hung out with sinners because they understood their need, their lack of perfection. There was an atmosphere of authenticity, and a genuineness of companionship that religion would seek to quench. It would be the greatest achievement of His followers to emulate Him in this way, the way of love expressed in authentic acceptance.
Father, heal the blindness that religion has covered over my eyes with. Please remove the lenses that look through rules and lose the value of a person. I want to love like you do so please transform how I see. We desperately need this Father and we want to love like your Son!