Make yourself at home
Mark 2: I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fat.
One of the early disciples is Levi, son of Alphaeus, otherwise known as Matthew. After becoming a follower of Jesus, Levi throws a party in the Lord’s honor. He invites all his friends to come to the feast and to meet Jesus. Apparently, Jesus is right at home with this crowd and that catches the attention of some of the religious leaders. In their opinion and practice, holy people don’t associate with sinners out of fear that some of their sin might rub off on them. It would be one thing for Jesus to shake his finger in their faces, telling them what bad people they are. However, Jesus apparently actually likes these people and is at home with them. He tells them that he’s like a doctor who lovingly cares for his patients and ends up spending more time with sick people than healthy people. I wonder what role I play in this story. On one hand, I’m one of Levi’s friends, unworthy of being loved by God yet loved still. On the other hand, I fear I’m one of the religious leaders who are quite comfortable hanging out with other religious folk, but not really at home with spiritually needy people. The real goal is to be more like Jesus who loves people and is willing to make himself at home with even sinners that he might show them the way to God. Every time I say, “I just don’t know anyone who doesn’t go to church” I identify with the religious leaders rather than with Jesus.
Take Away: Christians should love sinners and enjoy their company and, at the same time, be ready to offer them real hope of life change.