Who’s influencing whom?
Now it happened…that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. Mark 2:15 (NKJV)
“Sinners” were quite comfortable around Jesus. He stood in stark contrast to the pious and prejudicial Pharisees who were more interested in condemning them than saving them. With Jesus, sinners sensed something refreshingly different. There was grace, there was compassion, there was understanding, and there was someone they wanted to be with. What’s more, Jesus wanted to be with them, too.
But we can’t just stop there. If we do, then we’ll have a warped perspective of Christ’s relationship with sinners. In addition to Jesus being willing to associate with sinners, it’s equally important for us to recognize He wasn’t influenced by their sin. He never compromised His own standards of righteousness but remained who He was and stayed true to His convictions. And because He did, sinners saw something in Him they knew they needed, and they were saved.
Why is that such an important point? Because sometimes Christians can over-emphasize the fact that Jesus hung out with sinners and use it as license to live unwisely. “Yeah, I know there’s going to be some sinful stuff going on at that party. But didn’t Jesus hang out with sinners? So shouldn’t I hang out with my “sinner” friends so I can help them?”
Remember, Jesus didn’t just hang out with sinners. He changed sinners by living a life that was completely unlike their own. So when it comes to the way we interact with the proverbial “sinners” that we know, we need to honestly evaluate if they’re influencing us with their sin. If so, we’re not following Christ’s example.
Jesus spent time with sinners, but He never lowered His standards in the process. At the end of the day, they didn’t rub off on Him. Instead, He rubbed off on them. Let that be our agenda as well. Let’s make sure we stay in touch with sinners without compromising or being influenced by their sin.
Think About It…
What does this passage reveal to me about God?
What does this passage reveal to me about myself?
Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?