On July 1st 2010 I wrote a blog entitled Where We Are Going, and it was about how God accepts everyone. Since then, some folks have asked about how it is, exactly, that God accepts everyone. And, the follow-up question is this: if God accepts everyone… do we need to change our lives in response to God’s acceptance.
Or, in other words, if God accepts me ‘as I am’ what do I do with all that junk I know God doesn’t like about my life?
Now I am certainly not the last word on this… but I can get the ball rolling. First, if Jesus was famous for anything in his life and ministry it was that he ‘rubbed elbows’ with sinners. Here’s what the religious folks grumbled (Luke 15:2):
And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus response to this grumbling was that it was far more important to ‘find’ the ‘lost’ than just keep company with the ‘found’. He also says, to this same accusation (in Mark 2:17): Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.
But what about the sick and lost? What happens next? Well, they are supposed to become ‘well’ and ‘found’. This ALWAYS requires a lifestyle change. In the Scriptures, the way this lifestyle change is called for is with that uncomfortable word: Repent. No one really likes that word because it means ‘turn around’ and ‘change your mind’.
But Jesus had a way of making his point without getting in people’s face about it (unlike many holier-than-thou Christians today). His basic response (repeated time and again) was:
“Follow me” (he says to the evil tax collector Matthew in Matthew 9:9) Yep… the same person who wrote the book ‘Matthew’ was a person who started lost and became found.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (he says to a woman who was just about to be killed for committing adultery… yes, Jesus saved her)
Notice Jesus doesn’t just ‘rub elbows’… he requires change: ‘follow me’ and ‘do not sin again’.
Tomorrow’s blog will talk about ‘following’ and ‘not sinning’.