Bible Reading: Mark 2:13-17
I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough. Mark 2:17
One Sunday morning a guy and girl in their midteens wander into a church and sit down. They’re not exactly wearing what most church folk would call their Sunday best. From the top of their spiked hair to the bottom of their clunky army boots they’re dressed in chains and black leather.
After the service the pastor greets the couple. Despite their scary dress, their faces glow. The pastor finds out they are new Christians, fresh out of harsh lives of drug abuse. He welcomes them to the congregation and fills them in on places they can plug in to nurture their new life in Christ. He grabs them by the hand and introduces them to the youth director, who heads out to the parking lot to drool over the guy’s motorcycle.
The next day the pastor gets several loud phone calls. “Who were those people?” “I sure hope you didn’t tell them about youth group.” “I don’t want them hanging around our church.”
Huh? Who would have thought you’d get into trouble if you trusted Christ, quit doing drugs, but forgot to buy a new wardrobe before you went to church?
Those church folk missed the opportunity of the moment—to give a loving welcome to two young friends desperately needing a home in the body of Christ. They made appearances more important than people.
To be a Christian always means to put people first. No one has ever been more people-centered than Jesus. He taught, healed, blessed, lived, bled, and died for people. He pointed out how religious people had turned the Old Testament into cold, impersonal rules instead of directions for loving God and loving people.
Slamming the church doors on strangers isn’t the only way Christians forget to put people first. If we have only Christian friends, attend only Christian events, and buy only from Christian-owned stores, we’re totally missing the chance to be people-centered like Jesus.
“We don’t party with sinful scum,” the critics of Jesus seemed to say, “because we don’t want their sin rubbing off on us.” But look again at your Lord. He saw things from a people-centered perspective. Why did he spend time with sinners? So his love could rub off on them.
TALK: Are you ever afraid to hang out with non-Christians? Why or why not?
PRAY: God, remake our attitude. Help us love the people you died for—whatever they look like.
ACT: What do you want to do today to love the way Jesus did?