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Hanging With the Bad Influences for Fun and Profit

Hanging With the Bad Influences for Fun and Profit

MARCH 7, 2024

/ Articles / Hanging With the Bad Influences for Fun and Profit

Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was.

Jesus’ response, recorded in Matthew 22:37-39, was, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your heart, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Here, Jesus is saying what the entire rest of the bible says over and over–and we somehow miss–to do what God wants is to live a life of love. Maybe because it’s second we think it’s not important, but we don’t do all that great a job of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

It doesn’t seem like a week goes by that someone doesn’t do something that we Christians get all loud and lathered up about. We’re upset about Christian chicken sandwiches one week, selling cakes to gay people the next, and we can’t help but post snarky, arrogant comments on social media when a man who’s a sports and television personality decides he wants to become a woman.

Show Me Your I.D.

Jesus said they’d know us by our love for one another. That includes all of the people above, and a whole lot more that you and I might consider worse. These days, they know us by our pride, our arrogance and what we are against. The world recognizes a Christian because he’s beating up someone he appears to think he’s better than. The wretched sinner.

We have it in our heads that attacking a person head-on is how we’re going to change the world. Even that’s probably me giving us religious people the benefit of the doubt. Those attacking the homosexuals and drunks, the thieves and cross-dressing queens are likely more interested in shaming them than altering their ideology. That’s not love, and 1 John 4:8 says that if you don’t have love, you don’t know God, because that’s who God is.

To be clear, that means that non-loving behavior is not revealing of God’s character. It reveals who we are. It does not draw people to Christ, it confuses them about who God is.

None of Our Business

1 Corinthians 5:12 says something really important on this issue. Paul is writing to clear up something he said about not hanging out with unrepentant sinners. He makes clear that he didn’t mean non-Christians. You’d have to pack up a spaceship and leave the planet to do that, he jokes (well, he didn’t mention the whole spaceship thing, but you get the picture). Then he says something important to our conversation: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”

If that doesn’t stop us in our hateful judgment of non-Christians, I’m not sure what will.

Maybe Jesus Will Convince You

Jesus hung out with people some of us would frown upon, sharing meals with them so often that he became known as a friend of sinners and a glutton. He was always eating with those darn sinners. At one point, someone calls him out on this and what he says clears up any argument we might have left for attacking people rather than being the New Creation of love that we now are in Christ:

Jesus has just called Matthew (a thieving tax collector) to be his disciple. “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:11-13)

First thing to note here is that YOU AND I ARE NOT THE PHYSICIANS. I feel like it’s important to say that. It’s Jesus. Secondly, and, oh, so importantly, it’s more important to Jesus (and, so, to us) to love those the self-righteous will judge us for loving than it is to be judged by those suckers.

Love is more important than decorum.

Love is more important than appearances.

Love is more important than you acting like you’re keeping yourself clean by sacrificing and staying away from such vile sinners.

Love is, in fact, jumping headlong into relationships with those who just might get you called a name or two. But, hey, Jesus is good company.

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