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In my studies this week I came across these words from a book in my office called, The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey.

As my class in Chicago read the Gospels and watched movies about Jesus’ life, we noticed a striking pattern: the more unsavory the characters, the more at ease they seemed to feel around Jesus.

PEOPLE – like these found Jesus appealing: a Samaritan social outcast, a militant officer of the tyrant Herod, a quisling tax collector, a recent hostess of 7 demons.

In contrast, Jesus got a chilly response from more respectable types. Pious Pharisees thought him uncouth and worldly, a rich young ruler walked away shaking his head, and even the open-minded Nicodemus sought a meeting under the cover of darkness.

I remarked to the class how strange this pattern seemed, since the Christian church now attracts respectable types who closely resemble the people most suspicious of Jesus on earth. What has happened to reverse the pattern of Jesus day? Why don’t sinners like being around us?

I recounted a story told to me by a friend who works with the down and outs in Chicago. A prostitute came to him in wretched sraits, homeless, her health failing, unable to buy food for her 2 year old daughter. Her eyes awash with tears, she confessed that she had been renting out her daughter – 2 years old! – to men.. to support her drug habit. My friend could barely bear hearing the sordid details of her story. He sat in silence not knowing what to say.

At last he asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. “I will never forget the look of pure astonishment that crossed her face,” he later told me. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever gatherer?...

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