By Hunter Greene
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Let me pose a couple questions. What would you do if you found out someone you knew was pregnant out of wedlock? How would you act if someone you knew was addicted to drugs? Within your church? Would you shun them? Would you hug them? Would you treat them as if you didn’t know this life-altering event existed? Would you love them but only from a distance? Would you reject them?
God posed me these same questions a couple years ago. It lay extremely heavy on my heart. I was torn from welcoming them, loving them from a distance, or rejecting them because they had major junk to take care of. Part of my heart was saying “Shame on them!! They need to keep it together. Get a grip on life.” But when I’d say that, I would look at myself and say “Now Hunter, you were at a point in your life when your life was in the trash. For that matter, you still need to work some things out.” And then the third part of my heart would say “Yeah, Hunter. We’ll love them. We’ll care for them and pray for them, but all from a distance. I mean, we can’t really associate with them, can we? Certainly not be seen with them.” See what kind of battle I would go through in my head? I was torn between three logics where I could find three different scriptures to back each point. I was torn!
I began to ask around. I was asking people I spoke honestly with and got honest answers in return. Some gave good insight and good arguments for each question. “We should love them, yes, but only from a distance and pray for them from afar. We do not need to associate with them for “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1Cor. 15:33). Point taken. I wasn’t fully convinced. I began to dig deeper into the Word and try and find some kind of answers. After diligent searches, nothing. All it did was make it even harder for me to find a conclusion. I mean the verses to back my first arguments were all found in the same book. The Bible. See my dilemma? My question was always “What/how should a Christian do/act if…” I began to pray, “Father, please give me revelation on my question. Give me scripture to find where YOU stand on this topic. What would YOU do if this happened?” God’s response to me was “You know, Hunter. My son does have a biography. Check him out.” DUH!!
I decided, shortly after bouncing randomly between Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that I would just start from the beginning in Matthew 1:1 and go to the end of John’s last verse. And so I read. I began to find other things in Matthew that I had never known and it caught my interest. Soon, I forgot my main mission and put it to the side and gnawed on other topics. A couple weeks went by and I completely forgot about my original question as it left my thoughts. That was until God kept me up one morning at 2:30. I was doing a little late night studying. “Better late than never.” I was reading in Matthew 9 that particular night.
Matthew 9:9 starts by Jesus going to Matthew (or Levi), who was a tax collector and saying “Follow me.” In verse 10, Jesus then went to Matthew’s house and ate. He not only ate with Matthew, and his own disciples, but also with “many other tax collectors and ‘sinners.’” The Pharisees, in verse 11, saw this and asked Jesus’ disciples why Jesus was among them and eating with them. The reason they asked this was unknown to me. God bless the study Bible. It says “Jewish tax collectors were regarded as outcasts. They could not serve as witnesses or as judges and were expelled from the synagogues. In the eyes of the Jewish community their disgrace extended to their families.” WOW!! That means if your dad or brother or son was a tax collector, good luck, because you are gonna need it to make it in life. The phrase “sinners” also had me stumped. So, again, God bless the study bible. “Sinners- Notoriously evil people as well as those who refused to follow the Mosaic Law interpreted by the teachers of the law. The term was commonly used of tax collectors, adulterers, robbers and the like.” Basically, the Pharisees were asking why Jesus was eating among all these people that are known for evil things, people that have been proclaimed as outcasts. I even asked these questions. His answer is incredible! The answer to my prayers is finally here. Verse 12 “On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus was eating among sinners. If you aren’t aware, when they would eat among each other it was a sign of great friendship. Jesus was declaring them as friends. He was saying to them, “Hey, I know what people call you and how they treat you, but you know what, I don’t care. I’m gonna love you anyway. I’ll be your friend. Not from a distance, but at the dinner table. Come break bread with me. I’ll accept you.” It got the attention of the Pharisees. And 10 out of 10 times when Jesus angered the “Men of the Law,” he was doing something right.
I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t have to have everything together for Jesus to be your friend. He loves you! He didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinners. The people like me. I’m a sinner. 100 percent guilty. 100 percent forgiven. As the church, I think we struggle with accepting people where they are in life. So what if they are pregnant, or addicted to drugs, or porn. So what if they are a convicted felon, or live on the streets. So what if they smell funny or have a weird hairstyle. How do you expect them to grasp the fact that God accepts them where they are, if we can’t accept them? Love them anyway. Isn’t the great Sunday school answer “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” God has called us to walk with each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) We need to get out and touch the lives of the people that need our help. Touch the people that need God’s help. No more telling people they need to leave their junk at the church doors before they enter. No more telling people they need to quit drugs, or prostituting, or any of the “sinners” credentials before we’ll accept them. It’s nonsense. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(Romans 5:8) He accepted you when you had garbage. Reach out and touch the life of someone who isn’t accepted by the world, by the “law men,” or by the church. God bless.