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Uncomfortable for Jesus

“Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples…” Mark 2:15

Who do you intentionally spend time with?

My whole life I’ve spent very little time intentionally with the kind of people Jesus is described as spending time with in our focus text. I know that people are people no matter who they are or what their lives are like. They have the same basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, belonging, etc.; and they get things done in ways that are similar to each other. The saying is true. We all put our pants on the same way. All this being said, I still find that when I spend time with people that are not disciples of Jesus, people who don’t have the same kind of relationship with God as I do, that I have a hard time being comfortable and really enjoying myself.

But perhaps I’m approaching this the wrong way. When I intentionally place myself in the company of the “tax collectors and sinners” of this world am I placing myself there with the purpose of getting comfortable and enjoying myself or do I have a different purpose?

Too often, God’s people have avoided social functions that we’d find unenjoyable and inappropriate because some how we’ve forgotten that we’re not here to get comfortable and find pleasure in the world; we’re here to be witnesses and make a difference for Christ.

One of my teachers when I was in the seminary told us that one day he noticed that each day after work would have gotten out that the same cars were parked in front of the local bar. He realized that if he were to ever meet and influence any of those people for Jesus he would have to start spending time in that bar. So he did. His purpose wasn’t to get comfortable and enjoy what the bar had to offer, rather, it was to go there so that the people there could, through him, come to know Jesus.

This is what Jesus was doing in Mark chapter two; spending time with sinners so that through him those sinners could come to experience the love of God. The self righteous of that time were offended and critical of Jesus’ actions but Jesus didn’t come to this world to soothe the feelings of the holier-than-thous of this world. He came to call the sinners to make a change in their lives. In order to do that he had to get comfortable with being around people who did things that made him uncomfortable.

If Jesus would do that for you and me i think it’s time we started be willing to do that for him?

1 thought on “Uncomfortable for Jesus”

  1. This is an important message and lesson.

    Before I became an SDA, in 1975, I was working in a natural foods/vegetarian restaurant in a small community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were a very friendly, cooperative community of people, who worked in the restaurant and ran the local food coop too. Nearby was a SDA church, and I knew nothing about them, and I wasn’t a believer in God.

    I moved away from that community and in 1980 became an SDA. In 1981, I met a pastor who had worked and lived in the small community where the restaurant was. He didn’t “think much” about us at the restaurant. His negative attitude about us really broke my heart and here’s why.

    Sophie and I had been close friends at the restaurant and coop. She married the director of the restaurant and coop and had a baby, but for some reason, the marriage didn’t work out. Sophie and I both had previously lived in the Detroit, MI area, and when we moved away from the area with the restaurant and coop, we met each other in her parent’s Detroit home. We went to the Detroit Unitarian church together at Christmas time. About four months later, she would hang herself in her parent’s basement. Two years later I would have a child out of wedlock, something I would suffer the consequences of, in many different ways, for the rest of my life.

    What if the pastor and those SDA’s had been able to love and care about those of us in the coop community? What if they had been friendly to us and reached out to us? What if some of us had learned about God and been drawn to Him? What if Sophie had learned something good about God to keep her from being so depressed, and to keep her from hanging herself while her one year old child was nearby in a crib? What if I had learned something of God’s love to keep me from looking for love from men, and then I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant out of wedlock?

    I believe the promise that “All things work together for good to them that Love God…” but how many people who might have been saved had we SDA’s been caring.

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