A couple of weeks ago, Daniel spoke about the way Jesus walked a fine line when fellowshipping with those who society, especially the religious, saw as being ‘sinners’. Jesus ran the risk of being seen to endorse a person’s life choices or behaviour by eating with them. He was pronounced guilty by association. It was never Him who called people sinners (accept when describing the Pharisees themselves). His message was clear – everyone, whoever they were, whatever their background were invited to the biggest party ever – the end time feast where Jesus as host and bridegroom sits down and eats with those who follow Him. Making sure everyone knew Jesus loved them and accepted them was in advance of any conversation about the choices they were making. In Matthew 23: 13 Jesus goes further in his rebuke of the Pharisees when he says:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”
By acting as gatekeepers (or bouncers) to the party the Pharisees were in danger of not getting in themselves!!
Some of the questions therefore for us to answer at CBBC as we seek to continue the mission of Jesus are:
1) Do we ever judge people before we have sat and eaten with them – Jesus didn’t ever do this and I would argue that he didn’t even do so afterwards
2) Is there anything that we say or do that makes people whose lifestyles differ from our values feel judged or condemned before they feel welcomed by us.
3) Are we willing to be accused of ‘guilt by association’ (even by other Christians) for the way we decide to love those whose behaviour they don’t approve of?
4) Are we willing to get that close to people, even eating and fellowshipping with them, without feeling the need to point out everything (or indeed anything) we see as sin in their life?
5) How do we corporately show that we accept and unconditionally love all people without compromising our faith (I think this is the big one)
Let me finish by reminding you of the quote by Andy Holt that Daniel used on Sunday.
Pharisees should think that we are engaging in and approving of sinful behaviour, but sinners should know that we are graciously and compassionately inviting them into God’s kingdom through repentance. We should follow Jesus so closely as he redraws the lines of the kingdom that the self-righteous think that we are redrawing the lines of morality. Jesus’s table fellowship with sinners looked suspicious from the outside, but those who were there knew that kingdom activity was going on. Those intent on purity and cleanness, who live with an us-versus-them mentality, should think that we are drunkards and gluttons! But the broken sinners should know that we are people of grace and compassion.
Andy Holt https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/03/26/jesus-ate-with-sinners-by-andy-holt/