Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2 [NIV]
A well-known pastor used to frequent a local bar. He never drank anything stronger than a soft drink. His purpose was simply to bring the light of Christ to a darkened corner of the world. The wonderful fact is that, during these visits, he got to know a young lady who had no family. Nobody cared one bit for this woman. But, when her birthday came, the pastor saw to it she had a cake.
Everyone in that bar knew who the pastor was, and what (or rather Who) he stood for. He wasn’t walking in, thumping down a leather-bound Bible and preaching Hellfire and brimstone to these people. He was demonstrating Christ’s love in a very real, tangible way, by showing somebody who felt worthless that God loves them. And no human being is without worth.
I wonder how many Christians gave this pastor a sideways glance, knowing where he often hung out, forgetting the company Jesus Himself kept. Jesus dined with “sinners and tax collectors” – shake-down-artist scourges of society. He publically defended an adulterous woman facing death (John 8) and talked alone with a Samaritan woman who’d had more than a few men (John 4). He repeatedly stood at odds with people of high reputation in the Jewish community.
Yet Jesus never partook in anyone’s sins. He never solicited any sort of immorality. He was out there for one reason and one reason alone:
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:9-11 (ESV)
This he does not merely for the good and religious. The Good Shepherd actively seeks His sheep who have strayed from the flock:
11-12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. – Matthew 18:11-14 (ESV)
Jesus didn’t tow the Pharisee company line. He personified for all the world Who God is, and exemplified how believers should live. He forgave sinners, freeing us from the bonds that hold us. He healed the sick, giving us a fresh start. He stood in the face of legalism and fulfilled the Law with Love:
37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
We are called to be salt and light- to interact with the culture around us, who may not share our worldview – without caring what others think of the company we keep. We are called to be counterculture: not adopting the world’s self-gratifying / self-centered goals, but lovingly sharing the Gospel through our lives. We cannot do this in a vacuum, or from a high judgmental moral perch, looking down upon the “sinners”. After all, it isn’t “us and them.” Scripture says all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. True Christians are merely humble servants of Christ saved by grace – nothing more.
If anyone has a problem with that, well… let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
© 2014 by Chris Courtney. All rights reserved. Please share this message and visit us at: http://www.bouvillediarist.wordpress.com
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