“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?