Opening your life to God’s Word on a consistent basis over a long period of time will slowly but surely begin to shape your thoughts, perspective, attitudes, and actions. You will start out just reading God’s Word and it will eventually begin to read you! God’s truth will challenge you and help you to see as God sees! Watch how God’s perspective will begin to influence you in ways you never imagined! Stick with the plan! Open your heart to God and He will transform you from the inside out!
In His Love,
Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:1-2
This week, we are going to walk through one of the most significant series of scriptures in all of the New Testament…..Luke 15. The first two verses begin with a snapshot of the kind of crowd with whom Jesus spends a great deal of time. They were referred to by the religious people as “tax collectors and sinners”. Tax collectors were the worst of the worst! They were not involved with the faith community, they worked on the Roman Emperor’s payroll, and they were given permission by the Romans to extort extra money out of their fellow countrymen. The others are simply referred to as “sinners”. While some referred to as “sinners” were publicly acknowledged prostitutes, most of those referred to as sinners were those who were not a part of the faith community….who did not follow the religious laws and regulations nor did they go to temple or the synagogue. Jesus had acquired a reputation as one who welcomed sinners and ate with sinners. Religious people never dreamed in their wildest dreams of coming into any sort of social interaction with non-religious people…..and certainly not eating with those they considered “unclean”. Basically, church people never sought to reach people outside of the walls of their faith community. They just went to weekend worship, Bible studies, and church dinners. They had zero interest and actually avoided unchurched people like the plague. Yet when the Messiah came to visit, these are the very people He chose to reach!
How many unchurched people are you involved with in any kind of social interaction? Have you been a Christian so long that all of the people in your network of friends are Christians? Have you totally isolated yourself from those outside the church because you somehow feel that you are better than them or because you might become “unclean” if you associate with them? Or are you simply indifferent…..uninterested? What are you intentionally doing in your life to move outside of the “holy huddle” of your faith relationships in order to move into meaningful interaction with those who are far from Christ? If you do not know anyone outside of the faith, you will more than likely never reach anyone for the sake of Christ and eternity. Identify at least one person who has either drifted from the faith or someone who does not attend church and begin to pray for them Come up with ways that you might begin to build some sort of meaningful relationship with them. Who knows what might happen for eternity?
Heavenly Father, I do not want to be a “muttering church person” who judges those outside of the faith and spends my whole life “in church”. I want to be like Jesus….to be so open to Your direction and Your love, that I am freely and fully engaged in doing life with those far from You. To help point someone favorably in Your direction, it begins by my willingness to move outside of my religious circle! Give me the courage and the love to do so! Amen.