Monday, March 10, 2014


Who of us would argue that sin in the life of a person is a fact! Christian or not! 

If it isn't adultery or drunkenness [or worse], it’s theft or embezzlement. Then, of course, for those who say they aren't guilty of things of that nature, there is always the possibility of either lying about not being guilty or pride that they're not. 

But have you ever noticed that in scripture we find a couple of different ways of behaving when dealing with people who’s sin is observable? One is what I call the “Jesus method.” There is a reason I’ve named this particular method after Him. He chose to exercise it. It was, of course, the option of love. He was driven by this thing called love. 

I read someone who said it this way,  “Love is what made Him different. He walked in and out of sinner's lives with nothing but actions that expressed love. He was honest with them, but it was always ‘with them.’  He was ‘with’ the harlot. He was ‘with’ the thieving tax-collector. He was ‘with’ the drunkard and wine-bibbers. 
Somehow Jesus didn't seem to register on the scale of judgment in their eyes.”

I'm thinking He likely didn't even refer to  them as "sinners." Don't forget it was the religious elite who called Him a "Friend of sinners." They loved that designation of the kind of people with whom Jesus spent time. My thought is He just referred to them as "My friends." 

That's not to say that they, if unrepentant, would not eventually face judgment. They would of course!  But He registered as an earthquake on the scale of love knowing that what He was going to accomplish on the Cross would REALLY speak to the issue of judgment on their sin, so He, knowing the purpose of the Cross, was able to show His love was real by being "with" them even though He wasn't "of" them.

There is a second way of behaving when dealing with people guilty of sins like this which I call the, “judgment method.”  The Pharisees chose to exercise this one. It made them quite different than was Jesus. They lived out this second way of behaving that was driven by fear. 

The same person mentioned before said this as well, “They [speaking of the Pharisees] were fearful of contamination. To the leper they said, ‘Here's a bell, ring it as you approach so we will know of your disease.’  To the woman with a continuous flowing period they said, ‘You have to live outside the city because you're contaminated.’ To the harlot they said, ‘I've got my stone to throw at you because you deserve death for your immorality.’  They weren't ‘with’ them at all. They feared them. Not being ‘of’ them did not suffice. They refused to be ‘with’ them as well.” 

There you have it! Two different ways of behaving. Love or fear. 

This verse illustrates the method chosen by Jesus. "Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything."  [I Peter 4:8 The Message]

The end result of His way was the Cross, of course, and that is now the message we bring to all who are guilty. We have experienced that same Cross, so we can now, empowered by the Holy Spirit, choose the same method Jesus chose when He was in the presence of those who sin.

As already mentioned Jesus was known as being "The friend of sinners." Guilt laden people felt at ease with Him back then and should be at ease around us as well. He knew He would be taking their judgment to the Cross and He knew that one day He would stand in judgment over Cross-rejectors as well. But until then He sits at the mercy seat and I'm thinking we would do well to be found there as well.    

May "being like Jesus " be more than words to us all.


Aussie John said...


About three minutes ago I got off the phone. I was speaking to my sister about this very topic.

Her and her husband have recently retired from home missionary work,and are now travelling in a caravan. They came across the area in the state of Victoria which was recently devastated by bush fires and joined up with a group of people helping to rebuild infrastructure.

Sis. said they were asked what they used to do and why they decided to help when the people they were helping weren't known to them, Her answer was, "We are Christians and want to show the love of Christ to these people"

I was floored when she told me none of the local churches in the area are helping.

I'm reminded of Alexander the Great when he was recruiting for his army. One of his soldiers found a young man hiding in the back of a cave.

"Young man! What is your name?"

A very tremulous answer was offered, "Alexander, sir".

Alexander drew himself up to his full height, "Young man! Change your conduct, or change your name!"


Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I find it rather strange that so many Christians cannot merge a willingness to love and share the gospel with assisting and providing physical care, as your sister and her family are doing. Blessings on her indeed. May her tribe increase.