Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Friend of Sinners

Matt. 9:11-13 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

         I couldn't believe my eyes. I had heard a knock on the door, and had gone to open it. Standing directly in front of me was an old friend, a friend I hadn't seen since I was 15 years old. We had attended elementary school, Junior High, and up to the second year of High School together. We went through our rebellious teens together, and had experimented with drinking and taking drugs together. We lost touch when he was a sophomore in High School, and it had been eight years since I had seen him last. Now, I had been saved for three years, and he was back in my life. Standing right in front of me.
         "How's it goin', man? What's been happening in your life?" he asked. By the way that he spoke to me, I could see that he was under the influence of some drug, or alcohol, or perhaps a combination of both. It turns out he was under the influence of a combination of alcohol and a barbiturates known as seconal, (or reds as we used to call them). "I'm going to walk to the corner, to the Liquor store", he said. "I'm going to buy some beer. Would you like to come with me? We can rap about old times, and you can tell me what's new in your life" he said.
         Immediately I thought about my reputation in the neighborhood. For several years, my neighbors knew me as a pretty wild kid; drinking, taking drugs, and basically just running wild. Since becoming a Christian, I had done my best to erase that memory, and really wanted to keep my new reputation for being a Christian untainted. How could I do that, and be seen walking down the street with an old friend, who was staggering drunk?
         At first I was tempted to just have him walk to the store alone. I thought that I could have him go buy his beer, and then have him come into the house when he was through drinking it. But something inside me prompted me to walk to the store with him. The Spirit clearly was reminded me of how Jesus was called a friend of sinners. I certainly was no better than Jesus, so I did what I felt He would have me to do at that time. I walked with my friend.
         When we returned, I shared the love of Jesus with Him. That day, after a lengthy time of sharing God's word and God's love with him, my friend bowed his head in prayer, and received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. As I had the joy of praying with him, I could not help but thank God, because indeed, He still is the friend of sinners.
            Today, you will have many opportunities to minister the gracious love of Jesus to those who are quite obviously sinners and others who hide their sin well. Do not be afraid of loving those who obviously are not aware of the gracious love of God, in Jesus. Why not take the opportunity of introducing this loving Savior to those who have yet to understand God's gracious love towards them. Remember, as Paul said, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!"

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