By: Lisa Wilmore
Scripture Reading: Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them (Luke 15: 1-2 KJV).
My Dear Christian Friends,
Perhaps there are those who may worry about what others think when they are in the presence of sinners. Actually, they may become paralyzed with fear because they do not want anyone to associate them with persons who have obviously strayed away from God or those who have not accepted Him as their Savior. The question to ponder is, “when is it the right time to sit with sinners and receive them as Christ did?” The answer-when every opportunity presents itself. It is our Christian responsibility to “outreach” to the lost and sometimes “in-reach” (persons who are not in fellowship with the church) to individuals who may have strayed away and found themselves in a place far away from the God.
It is widely known and shared that Christian individuals would refuse to appear at certain programs and gatherings if a certain “class of people” is slated to be present. Particularly, they would rather remain at home or participate in other activities than to be among those persons they have classified as sinners. They reject these persons and act as the pharisees did when Jesus sat in the midst of people, they thought were unworthy of God’s grace.
In the aforementioned text, Jesus sat with the sinners and publicans. The publicans were known for their unfair collection of taxes from the Jews. When the Pharisees and Scribes, religious leaders, witnessed Jesus sitting with them, they began to murmur among themselves about Jesus’ actions. Of course, Jesus knew their thoughts and conversations; however, He began to teach them using parables. He taught them about the shepard with the lost sheep, the woman with the lost coin, and the father with the lost son. Luke records Jesus’ display of how He truly loves sinners. He searches for them and finds them, then, cheerily forgives them. He explains to them that joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repent…(Luke 15: 7b).
Since Jesus sat among the sinners and taught them, what about Christian believers? We must remember that the same grace Jesus extends to us, He extends to others, also. Besides, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Although associating with sinners may bring criticism from others, we must overlook their criticism and love them as God does and give them hope through His Son, Jesus, the Christ.