When Jesus was on earth, he was called “friends of sinners”…

This means that he was not judgemental of sinners but was rather very judgemental of religious people.

I think this is quite revealing.

Many people think that they’ve succeeded in being like Jesus when sinners get very uncomfortable around them or when sinners run away at the sight of them. Some Christians would give testimony in Church to celebrate it as a win.

Jesus was not repulsive to sinners, he was rather repulsive to religious people who were rather becoming a barrier from sinners knowing God for who he is.

Being a friend of sinners doesn’t mean that Jesus was compromising, engaging in sinful activities, or approving of their sins. Rather, Jesus was seeing beyond their sins, he was seeing beyond their flesh, he was seeing their best and who they’d become in him. He loved them genuinely.

In the days of Jesus, being called “friend of sinners” was an insult. They saw Jesus hanging out with greedy tax collectors, street urchins, prostitutes, and so on. This was one of the reasons why the religious folks hated Jesus and yet this was the reason why everyone else loved Jesus. Jesus was simply open and ready to accept anyone into his circle.

Regardless of who anyone was, Jesus saw tremendous value in them. After all, in the Old Testament, God used a prostitute to protect Israeli spies. Jesus would come from her lineage. Jesus was friends with people whose lives were complicated, people who had lost their way, and people who were messed up. Yet, in Jesus, these people saw a genuine love that the religious folks had never given them.

Jesus related to these people in the language they’d understand. He went to their homes, sat with them, ate with them, and brought genuine love into their lives. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law complained to the disciples of Jesus saying “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

But Jesus overheard them and answered them,

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:30‭-‬32

Jesus didn’t go rubbing it on their faces, he didn’t go pointing fingers at them and sounding fierce like the religious people. Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the religious people but saw beyond the sins of the sinners. Jesus didn’t go about speaking religious jargon, he didn’t go about with rules of dos and donts. He knew that only the gospel could change their lives and he brought the gospel to them with compassion.

Instead of staying afar and judging them, Jesus came closer to them, to understand them, understand their pain point, understand the circumstances surrounding their lifestyle and offer them hope and love. These sinners who never felt love but hate from the religious community knew that Jesus loved them. It wasn’t speculative, it was real.

The early followers of Jesus understand this about Jesus and were not quick to pass judgment on people. People were labeled sinners because of their background, they were labeled sinners because of things that they had little control over. Some were even called sinners because of their cultural background. The woman of Samaritan was an example, the ordinary Jews despised Samaria and the Samaritans because of cultural differences. Jesus didn’t, he rather went there. Even while the woman he met started on the defensive, Jesus broke through her walls and got right into her heart.

How about leading his disciples into Tyre, a gentile town? Jesus got there and healed a woman. These are people regarded as dogs by the religious Jewish folks but not Jesus. The numbers are not limited to those I just mentioned. Jesus lived out the true character of God.

In Jesus, God’s grace had no barrier. God’s grace and love are not limited to culture, race, or language. Isn’t it unfortunate that many Churches or Christians today pride themselves on being repulsive to sinners? They pride themselves in having sinners run away from them. Some Christians have become exactly like the religious people that Jesus was against. That isn’t what Jesus wants and that isn’t how to be like Christ.

To witness to souls and get tremendous results, we must work with the mindset of Jesus. We must stop seeing the worst of sinners and start seeing the best of them in Christ. We must accept that all lives matter to God and that there isn’t any person on Earth today who cannot be loved by God. No person has strolled too far that God cannot reach them.

A Christianity that scares sinners away is not “Christ-like”, it’s not God’s will for us. This is why the harvest is plenty but laborers are few. So many people are hungry for a change, so many people are waiting for the manifestation of God’s sons and we can’t get these people with religion, we can’t get them with a motive to increase offering and tithes, we can only get them by genuinely loving them and selflessly reaching out to them.

We have them on our social media, we have them around us, we have them in our workplaces, and we have them in our schools. When we are sincere with God, he’ll direct our steps to them the same way Jesus moved to the woman of Samaria. When we meet them, we shouldn’t avoid them, we should drag them close, listen to them, look into their heart and understand them without judging them.

One of the things you may not realize is that these people have fewer friends, they have so many struggles, they need someone in their life and they do certain things they do because they are struggling not to give up on life. You may never know until you get very close to them.

You don’t have to be very comfortable, you just have to obey Jesus. These are very hurting people who God has brought your way for healing. Be passionate and honest and you’ll see God use you to bring answers to the questions they’ve been asking.

A Christian that is not a friend of sinners the same way Jesus was is not like Christ. It’s okay for people to call you names and you must remember that Jesus was called names too.


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