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Have a Meal with the “Sinners”

Mark 2:13-17

The pastor was clearly upset. “I’ve spent hours in a meeting today with my team trying to figure out how to connect this younger generation with church. They’ve kissed good bye to almost all the values that their parents at least gave lip service to—hard work, discipline, traditional sexual morality, loyalty to church, marriage, and family. How can we ever put together a service that will attract them?” Before this pastoral team spends any more time discussing what they consider to be a problem, they might want to check out what Jesus did when faced with a Roman-Greek culture that hadn’t even been touched with so-called Christian values. 

Jesus lived in the midst of “sinners” and rather than shouting about how bad the culture was and huddling with his disciples trying to figure out how to attract the crowd, he went right out where people were, and they flocked to him. He even welcomed invitations to come into their homes and eat. And it wasn’t the “sinners” who got upset with how he connected with others. It was the self-righteous religionists, the ones who had arrogantly set themselves up as better than others, who got upset with him. 

“Again, Jesus went out along the Sea. The large crowd following his ministry was coming to him, and he was teaching them. As he walked along the shore, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at his tax booth. Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me!’ Levi got up and followed him. 

So it happened that Jesus was reclining at dinner in Levi’s house and many tax collectors and sinners were sitting there with him and his disciples, for there were many disciples following Jesus. Now some legal experts among the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with the sinners and tax collectors, and they said to his disciples, ‘Why is he eating with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus heard them and said, ‘Those who are strong and healthy don’t need a doctor. I haven’t come to call the righteous but the sinners!’”  Mark 2:13-17

The irony is that when we think we are so strong and healthy, we don’t recognize our need for the true biblical Jesus. I found when I was pastoring, I discovered a lot more about how the so-called unchurched actually think when I was hanging out with them as their professor at a community than when I sat in meetings with the pastoral experts trying to figure out the right form to use to connect with “generation whatever.” Jesus was the real thing, and the real thing has an innate attraction that draws folks to it. 

LORD, help those Mary and I have hung out with the last few weeks who maybe haven’t trusted Jesus yet to respond to your voice. Help them realize that it’s not the good religious folks who get in to your house, but only those who will admit that only you can heal and forgive them.

For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!