Could Anyone Ever Accuse You of Being a Friend of Sinners?
Do you like sinners? Jesus did, and still does. I hear a lot of Christians talking about being like Jesus, being conformed into the likeness of Jesus, walking like Jesus, following Jesus… but most Christians I know don’t love sinners. They don’t like them; in fact, they hate them. Jesus, however, in the Gospels was accused by the religious crowd of being “a friend of sinners." (Matthew 11:19)
It doesn’t say he tolerated sinners, or that he made an allowance for them to be in his gathering. Nor does it say, he track-bombed them and then ran or held big concerts and then, at the end, preached the Gospel with the old bait & switch trick. Instead, the Gospel tells us that he was a friend of sinners. He knew sinners, went to their houses, talked with them over wine (yes, Jesus drank alcohol with sinful people). He knew their names, probably knew their kids' names, knew their aspirations and dreams and knew what they are interested in. You know… like a friend.
"His holiness caused him to reach out to people whom the culture deemed as sinners, criminals, adulterers, fornicators, offenders, outlaws and those who were materialistic."
Now, in all this talk about being like Jesus why don’t we ever talk about being a friend to sinners? Why do we think it is okay to only hang out with Christians and never hang out with anybody who does not believe? Since when is that acceptable? We are supposed to follow in his footsteps, aren't we? I’ve heard many Christians say, “Oh we are trying to remain holy.” Jesus was holy! His holiness caused him to reach out to people whom the culture deemed as sinners, criminals, adulterers, fornicators, offenders, outlaws and those who were materialistic. Jesus was the type of guy that would bring wine to a wedding… and it wasn't that cheap box wine, he brought the good stuff. Jesus was known to hang out with these types of crowds, so much so, that they accused him to be a drunkard and a glutton (Matthew 11:19). Not that we would want to sin and get drunk, but could anyone accuse of you of being a drunkard?
The religious crowd hated him; He didn’t keep their rules. He hung out with those who were sick and blind, and all those who, in their mind, God was punishing. One of their greatest complaints was that Jesus didn’t focus his attention on them (the Pharisees and the Sadducees). But he kept hanging out with and preaching to non-Christians. If you were to look at your life, look at your church, maybe even look at the movement within evangelical Christianity that you are a part of, could there ever be an accusation from a legalistic religious crowd towards you? Those people or that person is a friend of sinners.