I’ve been wrestling lately thinking about the people in my life who I would love to develop a deeper relationship with but feel restrained because I can’t go along with their way of life. I know Jesus calls me to love this person but I find myself asking, “How can I love this person when I don’t agree with what they are doing?”.
I am not the only one
As I listen to those around me speak about their relationships with others and observe what is happening between various people groups in our community, I discover I’m not the only one wrestling with this question. How do we love the drunkard who mistreats his wife? How do we love the activists who believe abortion is a valid option? How do we love those whose desire is to redefine marriage to accommodate a sinful lifestyle? How do I love those who by their actions mistreat others or mistreat me?
Jesus – a friend of sinners
When Jesus lived here on earth he never compromised his message. He stood for truth and righteousness and yet the “sinners” loved to come near and listen to him. What was it about Jesus that was so attractive to these people? How did Jesus love people in his time even though he didn’t agree with them and what they were doing?
When we read through the gospels we see Jesus spending considerable time with secular, non-believing people. In fact, Jesus had a reputation for hanging out with secular people. In Luke 15:2 “the Pharisees and scribes grumbled, saying, ‘this man receives sinners and eats with them.’” Jesus was known as a “friend of sinners” Matthew 11:19. But Jesus’ aim wasn’t just to become great mates with the world and accept their sinful practices.
People in need of a physician
No, he came to call people to a new way of life. In Luke 5:30 “The Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’”
Jesus was able to love people in his time even though he didn’t agree with them and what they were doing because He didn’t just see sinful practice, He saw sick people. Sick people in need of a physician—someone who could make them well, heal their hurts and most importantly, restore them in their relationship with God.
How do you view the secular people in your life? Do you see a sick person in need of a physician or are you like the Pharisees that only see sinful practice? It’s only when we spend time loving people that we discover how unwell they are without Jesus in their lives. When we spend time loving people, then they discover their need for Him.
Don’t be like the Pharisees. Choose today to see people like Jesus saw them and feel free to love them as he did.