Today, more than at any point in my life, people refuse to associate with other people. They refuse to forge friendships due to their differences. Different races are divided, politics are divided, churches are divided. There seems to be no end of reasons to isolate ourselves from just about anyone we choose.
Even when I feel that I should erase some of the division in my life, I wonder what refusing to embrace the rules of division will do to me. What will people think?
Of course, what people think isn’t that big of a deal. If I were to form a religion based on what people think, it might be popular but it wouldn’t be the transformational power of God’s grace that I desperately need in my life.
Luke 15:1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
Nothing is quite like sitting down to a good meal. Barbecue hot off the grill, big baked potatoes with globs of melting butter and some fresh bread are some of my favorites. Usually, I try to reserve my really good meal times with friends and family.
Jesus didn’t just have his food with his disciples, though. He sat down with people who other people divided themselves from. The religious leaders and teachers wouldn’t dare sit down with “those” people. They would, however, gripe about Jesus doing it.
It is pretty easy for me to sit here this morning and wave my finger at those religious leaders back in Jesus’ time. But the fact is that we live in a culture of division and if I accomplish nothing at all in this life but to love others by crossing those imaginary lines that race, politics and the church has drawn, I would have learned to be a bit more like Christ.
It isn’t my job to make others behave or even believe, just to give them a place to belong, even if they never see things the way I think they should. The bible doesn’t say that every person that listened to what Jesus had to say became a believer. In fact, many of those that cried out for his crucifixion had heard. Jesus knew this would be the case. He still did the right thing rather than the popular thing.
I really have to change what my perception of being Christian is. I’m afraid I’ve been molded far too much into man’s own image rather than into God’s. I’ve kind of become the guy that wants to walk into church and be what everyone thinks is a great man rather than what God thinks a man should be. I didn’t mean to let it happen but to some extent it gets to everyone.
I guess I can’t change the world today but I can look for a line to cross, a boundary to start tearing down. If I can do that and love whatever is on the other side, that’s a pretty good day.