REFLECTION FOR THE WEEK
“God’s concern is for all people” – Matthew 9:9-13
God’s concerns is for all people including the sinful and hurting ones. Unfortunately, one of the big temptations of religious people is to be judgemental, and to look down on those whom they see as outcasts, those not living by the same high standards as themselves.
Matthew Chapter 9 verses 9-13, records the scene of Jesus eating with sinners at Matthew’s house. And, throughout the gospel Jesus associated with sinners, the poor, weak and shared their food and drinks. He didn’t just tolerate them, but he welcomed them. Jesus did not wait for sinners to come to him, he went looking for them.
This is in contrast with the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, who shunned sinners and saw them as people cursed by God and therefore beyond redemption.
Beloved, hell broke loose, they felt scandalised when they found out that Jesus associated with sinners while they were still sinners. And the reason why they reacted this way is because they see compassion for sinners as a betrayal of the righteous.
Jesus does not discriminate, but went where the need was greatest and to those who needed him, the virtuous and sinners alike.
Let me make this clear, Jesus in associating with sinners did not condone their situation. Even though, he did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, in John’s Gospel Chapter 8 verses 1-11, he did not ignore or condone her sin. He told her to leave her life of sin. Jesus knew that in order to heal sinners, you can only do it by caring for them and not by ignoring or shunning them.
Like Jesus, I charge you, don’t let your attitude to sinners be one of condemnation and denunciation. Learn to distinguish between the sin and the sinner. Let your attitude to the sinners be of kindness, and persuasion. Let them feel accepted and loved just as they are. I have heard some Christians say and argue that pubs, bars, must be no go areas for followers of Jesus and those who go to these places are seen as sinners. I want to say that there must not be no go area for Christians, because the commission to us in Matthew’s gospel simply says: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” It is this message of God that changes people. Jesus readily hurt his own reputation among the religious elites in order to reach out to those who were lost. So, my friends don’t be preoccupied with your own appearance of holiness and reputation than with helping people. Offer encouragement and practical help instead of criticism and vilifying others. God is concerned for all people, including the sinful and hurting ones.
The Christians life is not a popularity contest. Following Jesus’s example requires that we must share the gospel with the poor, immoral, lonely and outcast, and not just the rich, moral, popular and powerful.
Beloved, the bottom line is this; we are all sinners who have experienced the love of Christ.
1st John Chapter 1 verse 8, reminds us that, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Also, Romans Chapter 5 verse 8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I urge you to take your standards from Jesus, to become ministers of his mercy and compassion to others.
I pray that you and I will recognise our sinful nature, and look for ways to help others rather than hurt them.
May you be blessed with a steadfast love for God and for others.
Have a fulfilling week.
Venerable Prebendary Tunde Roberts