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Twisted Scripture : Jesus, Friend of Sinners

on Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:50 pm
There is a growing movement in the church that focuses on Jesus being your friend. And while it may be needed compared to the theme of fire and brimstone preaching many still associate with the church from the past, has the message been twisted out of context? As pressure from the world increases on the church, has the church backpedaled allowing more and more sin to go unchallenged in the world? Has the overall message of accepting sinners now including accepting the sin as well? There are a lot of questions I believe Christians need to begin considering while asking God for spiritual discernment.

Throughout the gospels, the scribes and Pharisees would call Jesus out for dining and keeping the company of sinners.

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say,
"Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!"

Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34

The calling of Levi, meeting with Zacchaeus and other instances has Jesus' opponents saying the same thing.

So if Jesus was the friend of these sorts of people, why should it matter if we are? We even bring it up?

The calling of Levi, I believe, holds a better example of Jesus' purpose for his earthly relationships with these people.

After this, he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth.
And he said to Levi, "Follow me." And leaving everything, Levi rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast at his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered therm, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
- Luke 5:27-32

Again we have Jesus among known sinners. But in this passage, I believe, are where what Jesus was doing and what many in the modern church are doing differ. In today's society, many Christians have non-believer friends who live lives of sin. The two friends may never discuss religion and have no friction in their lives over it. When asked, the Christian will say he's being like Jesus. And this would be false. False because Jesus explained he came to witness to the lost, not become friends with them. He came to show them light in a dark and fallen world. Jesus call to repent is frequent and in everything he does. Not one of these sinners simply remained at Jesus' side, continuing in their life of sin. This is a completely than the argument made today. Whether it was someone he healed, the adulterous he saved from stoning, the woman at the well or his own disciples, Jesus let everyone know they must stop sinning. It is the only way to salvation and bringing people to salvation should be our purpose in life.

This makes Christians and non-Christians alike uncomfortable! And as hate towards believers grow, believers try more and more to say they are actually friends with non-believers. Yet in James 4:4 we are told;

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

This is an extremely "harsh" and serious claim! Your goal of being friendly with others, means you're God's enemy? That is not something you want for your life.

So how can we be like Jesus? How can we be the friend of sinners, but not friends of this world? How do we know we're walking in Jesus' footsteps and not making God our enemy? I won't say it's simple, but I will say it is straightforward. It comes down to what is your goal with that person. Are you witnessing to them? Do they know you are a believer in God? Are you telling them that they need to know God or risk eternity? Are you more worried about offending someone and losing them as a friend than their eternal salvation? Does your friend even know you find their lifestyle sinful and wrong? If that is the case then you have a very real issue. Jesus' message was offensive. It was hated. And he was killed for it. Matthew 10:22 even says we should be hated because of our lives. We are called to life a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1) And if you can't do that, you need to worry about your own walk with God.

Not one person going to hell isn't loved by God. Not one person is going to heaven because Jesus is their "friend." So when the world or even other believers tell you, that you need to relax in your outreach, because Jesus was "a friend of sinners" and so should you. Explain to them how you don't want a single friend to live a life without God's love and blessing, and that you definitely don't want to face the eternal consequence of not giving their life to Christ.

You may lose friends who are sinners, and even some who aren't, but you can walk assuredly that you are doing the will of God and witnessing to others.
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