This past Sunday my pastor continued his preaching sermon series on Jesus. Each week he covers a different aspect of Jesus. This past week it was about Jesus, the friend of sinners.
I really love the stories in the Bible where Jesus ate with the sinners. I think too often believers read the stories and only look at it from a personal perspective. What I mean is that we are so thankful that He did eat with sinners because that meant He accepted sinners. He was willing to forgive them. After all, He declared that He came to heal the sick not the healthy.
This is easy to personalize because we are grateful that despite being a sinner, Jesus has chosen to love us. I think the challenge comes when we have to apply it to others.
There are a lot of issues that believers could debate about. Our country faces them daily. Yet too often in the name of our “religious” beliefs we forget to draw the line between hating the sin and hating the sinner. Yes, there is a line that needs to be drawn there. We have to separate our hate of the sin from the person who is committing it.
A friend of mine, who is a very godly woman, once made the comment that it bothers her when she sees Christians picketing outside of abortion clinics. I am not talking about the peaceful protestors who make their point in a dignified manner. I do believe there is a dignified way to do that.
I am talking about signs and the like that make harsh statements such as “baby killers.” The reason this bothered my friend is that before she came into a relationship with the Lord, she had gone through an abortion.
As she dealt with that throughout her lifetime she knew how terrible it made her feel. She knew how painful it was to be reminded in such a cruel manner about what she had done. She told me that she didn’t see how such name calling would “enlighten” someone about what they were doing. There is a kinder way to do it.
It reminds me of the story of the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well. She was a sinner. Yet Jesus didn’t cut her down or call her a name. He revealed her sin in a gentle manner. He didn’t picket outside her house with a sign that declared how vile of a sinner she was. He knew the right way to speak life into her.
Sometimes we need that reminder to hate the sin but love the sinner. That is the example that Jesus laid out for us.