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Among the many complaints about Jesus was that He spent time with sinners.
For example, Luke 15:1 says, “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to (Jesus) to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them.’”
What was Jesus’ response to this criticism? He told the parable of the man who had 100 sheep. One of them got lost, so the man went out to search for it. And when he found the wayward one, he rejoiced and called his friends and neighbors to celebrate.
Jesus concluded, “There will be more joy in heaven over the one sinner who repents than over the 99 just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:4-7).
Where do we find sinners? Just in bars, in brothels, in satanic circles, in atheistic organizations and in other such settings? Truth be told, there are sinners all around us. We rub elbows with them in restaurants, in workplaces, on the street, and you know what? Even in church.
In church? Yes. Remember that Paul said, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Our human nature is to sin and only through the grace of God are we saved. The Jews tried to keep all sorts of strict laws to make themselves worthy, but that didn’t work in the long run.
We can look at other people and criticize many petty activities and behaviors. “They’re sinning!” we might say. “We need to stay away from them.”
I’m not saying we all need to go get involved with hardened criminals and atheists, but we need to look at key moments to show God’s love and care. The man in Jesus’ parable didn’t beat the sheep for straying but instead showed it kindness in order to bring it back into the fold.
“Speak the truth in love” the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians (4:15). How can we show love and concern for the people around us if we never get involved with them?
Donna Crowe is a minister’s wife.