Who did you hang out with when you were growing up? Furthermore, who do you hang out with now?
All of us know what it’s like to be in a group of friends at some level. No matter our hobbies, talents or interest, friends are a part of us and many times reveal a lot about us.
For most people, friends are a reflection of a common bond like economics, social status, neighborhoods, commonality and more. We choose who we’re around based on these kind of factors, thus our circle of friends is formed.
But there’s also moments when these factors are broken and something else takes place. All of the sudden you are friends with someone that you never expected to be friends with. Your backgrounds aren’t the same, your experiences aren’t the same, your ideologies aren’t the same but somehow you bond on something deeper and something beyond these things. These are special experiences that we can have that cause us to grow past the parameters that have been set and move to a new place of friendship.
This is what Jesus did and it changed everything.
If anyone could of had a “holier than thou” attitude, it was Jesus. Think about it, He was the son of God and He was perfect in all His ways. He knew everything about everything and could have looked down on people and talked over their heads, but He didn’t.
In fact, He did something crazy, He hung out with the broken, the hurting, the sick and the messed up. He humbled himself to be with people verses being over people. He chose to serve people verses being served. He chose to touch the dirty parts of others, so their lives could be clean. All of this and more, wrecked the religious groups of His day and is still doing the same right now.
We see this in Mark 2:15-17–
“Later, Levi invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other ‘disreputable sinners‘(There were many people of this kind among Jesus‘ followers). But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does He eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, He told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'”
I love the line in verse 15, “disreputable sinners. There were many people of this kind among Jesus followers.”
Notice, many of His followers were disreputable and yet He saw something others didn’t, especially the religious people.
So when I think of friends, Jesus and messed up people, I think of me.
Jesus took the time to be my friend when I was messed up and I bet He did the same for you too. I’m so glad Jesus changed the landscape of how God showed His love by loving someone like me and giving me a chance. How about you?
However, this speaks to us in a deeper way!
We must resist the religious attitude that judges others and excludes others based on multiple factors. These attitudes can also reject those that worship God in a different Christian group because if it’s not their group, others are out. These attitudes are subtle and deadly because they make us the judge and jury; furthermore, they takes us away from what He wants us to do, love people and win them for God. Period!
When we understand friends, Jesus and messed up people, we’ll stay in tune with His heart and passion; people!
I believe every church should represent this truth of friends, Jesus and messed up people to the full. Because this is not about us four and no more believing the same, looking the same, and acting the same. This is about Jesus touching real people, in real places, in real ways and the more we model this, the more His power will be seen.
However, I’m writing about this because these religious attitudes are so easy to take root in our lives and in our church and it hurts the love of God from touching others. This happens over and over again which means, we have to consciously guard ourselves and have the heart of God when it comes to our attitude toward others.
Our natural tendency is to be with only people that agree with us and that make us feel good about ourselves. This in itself is not wrong but it is limited because Jesus was friends with those beyond the boundaries and He reached for more.
He’s reaching for you too.?
He doesn’t care how messed up we are and He doesn’t care what we’re struggling with. What He wants is our hearts and a chance to do something great in our lives. Therefore, from this love He wants you and I to do the same to those around us. This is our mandate and this is the heart of the gospel and its pure form.
Keep it simple! Keep it real! Keep it beyond you!
Because this is where we grow and this is where God makes a difference not only in our lives but in the lives around us.
Our greatest opportunity is to not only receive the love of God but it’s also to give the love of God away. So when I think of friends, Jesus and messed up people, I think of you and me. I think of all the people He’s reaching for right now and how He wants you and I to reach for them too. Please don’t settle for religion. Please don’t settle for the mediocrity of church, and doing church our way. But rather reach for Jesus! Reach for more! Reach for others because He is too!
You’re accepted by God, to do something for God.
Receive it and believe it because your time is now.
God is with you and the best is yet to come!!