Wednesday, March 25, 2015
As Christians, trying to deal with today’s social issues can be difficult and complicated and, quite obviously, we’ve all seen the different approaches some churches and organizations have taken. I used to wonder, as many of God’s children have at one time or another, which method is the best or most effective. Do we take a hard line, stand our ground, and speak loudly against things we consider unchristian or do we turn the other way and choose not to get involved, indicating its none of our business?
When I first started in the ministry, I was a hardliner. There were no gray areas in my way of thinking; everything was black or white, and I know for a fact that I stepped on many toes and offended more than a handful of folks back then. I don’t remember how long I traveled that road but I did realize and grudgingly admitted one day that the approach I thought was correct was definitely not working for me. I also knew, during that time span, that I really wasn’t being myself, and no, I didn’t need a Snickers candy bar. Back then, I thought I needed to show the world that I was “standing up for Jesus” so I had to be the kind of person that I thought was representative of Christ. Then one day, it hit me. Remember the corny line, “I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger, and then it hit me.” Sorry about the goofy interruption but as you can suspect, that’s who I really am. I’m not a serious looking, no-nonsense kind of guy trying to convince himself and others that he’s a holy man. Well, back to my point: One day the Lord opened my eyes of faith as I read about the day when Jesus called Matthew, (Levi) the tax collector, to follow him. The story is found in 3 gospels
After deciding to be a follower of Christ, Matthew made a banquet to introduce Jesus to his fellow tax collectors and other friends. Mark 2:16 reads: 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.” I sensed immediately that to criticize somebody for the way they serve God and interact with others is a sin in itself but I also quickly recognized Jesus’ approach in dealing with “sinners.” Here, there was no indication whatsoever that he lifted up his voice to scold the attendees for their lifestyle choices. Many hardliners have come to understand, just as I did, that when we upbraid others for their unchristian ways, we’ll antagonize them and push them away instead of drawing them to Christ. It is apparent that Jesus won many of these to Himself just by being their “friend” and gained the platform to be able to tell them later about God’s love and His plan and offer for their lives. He never hinted that He condoned or approved of their lifestyle but when you see the entire picture and the end result, He didn’t have to. Why would it be any different for those of us who follow Christ?
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 12:8) “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”