Content for this article was taken from the new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). For more articles included in the book go to Love Like Jesus Book. Love Like Jesus is due to be published in 2018.
When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus loved people by spending time with them, in spite of their sinful lifestyle.
How to Love Like Jesus
There’s a blog I follow called Not Ashamed Of The Gospel. Not long ago, they posted a three part series about a ministry which reaches out to sex industry employees. I couldn’t help but notice there weren’t many comments offered on the last post in the series, An Insider’s Look — “Awkward!” I think for most people, that post was just too hot to handle.
Finally, one person posted and as best as I could tell he used scripture to infer this post about the sex industry ministry was an example of ungodly men perverting the grace of God.
I couldn’t help myself. I had to comment.
I wrote about when the Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner saw the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her hair and her tears. The Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39)
“Of course He knew,” I wrote. “But He also knew those ensnared in sin need Him just as much as the rest of us.”
Jesus loved people by socializing with sinners.
And you should too.
What Doesn’t Matter
It doesn’t matter if you don’t approve of their lifestyle.
It doesn’t matter if he’s gay.
It doesn’t matter if she’s promiscuous.
It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t provide for his family, and you think he’s lazy.
It doesn’t matter if she’s prideful.
What Does Matter
The only thing that matters is which way the influence flows.
Of course Jesus didn’t have to consider which way the influence flowed, because in His case, it only flowed one way.
However you and I are not the Christ. (John 1:20)
You see, I would never involve myself in a ministry to sex industry employees. Because the potential is too great for the influence to flow from the people and environment I’d be involved in, over to me. I think most men rightly see it that way. All of the people involved in the front lines of the sex industry ministry featured at Not Ashamed Of The Gospel were women, many of whom are former sex industry employees themselves. They were ministering to other women.
You and I have to carefully and prayerfully consider this issue of direction of influence flow. At any time, if you sense the flow is from the people you’re trying to love like Jesus, over to you, it’s time to end it.
With few exceptions, men shouldn’t be ministering to women, and women shouldn’t be ministering to men. Someone with a drinking problem shouldn’t be ministering in a bar.
That being said, I have to ask myself, “How often have I avoided influencing someone for Jesus Christ, simply because I had a distaste for their lifestyle?” The answer is — too many times!
The truth is, having a distaste for someone’s lifestyle is not a reason to avoid showing that person Christ’s love. If you know you’re on solid ground in terms of the direction of flow of influence — love that person with your time!
You must too because…
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
-Jesus Christ (Mark 2:17)
[Image via Fergal of Claddagh, Creative Commons]