In Jesus’ brief ministry, I never see Him sit in a “safe” place. Rather, He, with one or more of His disciples, goes to the home of the tax collector, or walks to the well in midday when He knows the women will be there. Jesus mingles with the people and does not hold Himself above them. In fact, the religious leaders became upset with Him for just this reason.(Mt 11) And when, pray tell, did Jesus ever wag his finger in the face of a known sinner and tell them they’re going to hell??? Answer … NEVER! He does, however, with tears in His eyes, weep for Jerusalem and the wickedness of us sinners.
Now, think about that for a minute. Jesus is, according to Scripture, the Head of the Church, yes? The “Body” of the Church should follow the Head. If Jesus (the Head) walks down to the beach of the Sea of Galilee to gather those “called” to Himself, should the “Body” sit comfortably behind closed doors hoping for the “lost” to stumble into a local gathering by themselves?
The single GREAT reason for the general ineffectiveness of the organized Church is our unwillingness to be … like Jesus! Believers are called to be like Jesus. While Jesus never tolerated sin, it is His unconditional love that drew (and continues to draw) people to Him. He was clear in His love for sinners. He pointed out their failures gently, but boldly embraced them as individuals. No place in Scripture are believers urged to condemn sinners, yet many believers feel obligated to do just that, even in “ministry”.
Let me ask this …
What drew YOU to Jesus? Was it fear of hell or need for acceptance/kindness?
One ugly example of this error at work is visible in the way the church has judged and condemned the entire homosexual community. YES, homosexuality is sin, but it is sin just like anger is sin, and gluttony is sin, and gossip is sin. All are forms of self-indulgence, while believers are exhorted to walk in self-control, yielding even our most base needs to the Holy Spirit. This arrogance, or elitist attitude is putrid, and totally in contradiction to Jesus. It drives people away from Jesus. Bottom line is, most people are fully aware of their sin. We don’t need someone to point it out, rather, we need someone to love us enough to accept us right where we are and offer unconditional love – GOD’s love, and forgiveness. Jesus is the WAY … the one and only way, but the unique thing about Jesus is that He meets us right where we are. He knows exactly what we have done, what we will do, and what we need … He never pushes, but instead, He draws us, welcomes us and frees us to find the person HE created us to be – freely unique individuals. His love empowers us to see who we are and who He is, and gives us the desire to be like Him. It’s all about God’s love! Like a shepherd to his flock, Jesus loves each sheep (person) so much that He leaves the other 99 to go in search of the one that is lost. Jesus loves the outcast lepers, harlots, and uncircumcised enough to go out in search of them, not to rebuke them, but to love them in spite of their sin.
Dear reader, is it not after the Holy Spirit indwells us that He begins to change us into His likeness? He does not require us to be holy before He embraces us, nor does He require us to work toward perfection. He only requires us to admit our need of Him, His love, His grace, and His mercy! How dare we require more! Let God be the judge of the sinner’s heart, and let us be His hands of mercy and acceptance. Then, and only then will we begin to see the power of Christ change our sinful world.