Jesus never wrote people off. Rather, he graciously invited the broken into His relational circle of hope.
We try to lean toward what we view as the best and the brightest. See, I think we do that because we want to be a part of what we feel like the world says is the best, and we’re so easily drawn to this idea of what the world deems as best.
You know, we’re known by the company we keep, right? But what we see in Jesus is not a philosophy of withdrawal; we see Jesus’ philosophy of getting involved with sinful people to build relationships with Him so that He could share the grace of God with them.
Now, no doubt, you and I, we can be influenced by the people we hang out with, but Jesus was never afraid to get into places of darkness so that He could shine a little light.
You know, if we look at the church in general, there are basically two kinds of people that we see here ; The first group is what we call “soft secular.” These are people who are so determined to live in the real world, not be isolated from it, that they adopt the world’s standards.
And then we see the second group; these are people who are so determined to live a holy life and not surrender to the standards of Jesus – they withdraw from the world altogether. Both are wrong. Jesus did neither of those. Jesus identified with undesirable sinners in order to include them in a relationship with God. See, unlike most of us, Jesus never writes anybody off.
One of the great ironies of the 21st century Church is that as Christians – most of us as Christians – only hang out in circles of other Christians.
Will you do a self-test with me? How many people do you hang out with regularly who are not Jesus followers? Or how many people do you invite to your house that don’t have your values or don’t look like you? Or how many people have you befriended lately that candidly participate in sinful activity? Well, if I am going to be honest with you today, I could count that on this one hand.
Jesus said this, “I did not come to judge the world but to save it.” But we tend to judge the world and then we turn our back on the world, especially when the world has need. You know, it is way too easy to become self-righteous. That is just what happens to us. It is way too easy to become self-righteous and miss the people that Jesus sought out.
2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Mark 2:17 – And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Luke 15:2 – And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:7 – Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
1 Corinthians 9:22 – To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”-1 Corinthians 15:33
It is impossible to live a life that is unaffected by other people. Their attitudes and opinions, like pollen, blow into our lives, shaping our perspective and influencing our decisions. When one godly person’s life sharpens another’s, it’s a good thing. It yields a harvest of mature fruit over time.
But I can think of several instances in my life when I allowed the negative influence of others to sway my better judgment. It started when I was young.
Like many things in life, the moments in which we’ve been swayed by bad influences are often easier to see with hindsight. I’d like to think that as a “big girl” now, my judgment and perspective would keep me from being led astray. Unfortunately, I still have blind spots. I’m still vulnerable to being influenced toward ungodly attitudes and actions. The process can be so subtle that I don’t even notice.
Make the right choices.