Summary: Do we spend all of our time inside the church walls, or do we spend so much time out in the community serving others that we start to smell less like sheep and a little more like sinners?
Do We Smell Like Sinners?
I titled the lesson “Do We Smell Like Sinners?” There’s a book titled “Do They Smell Like Sheep” which was written for church leadership and you can probably figure out the gist of the book from the title.
But, I want to challenge each of us to smell like sinners. Let me explain before you get up in arms.
Jesus during His ministry here on earth spent His time with sinners. He knew that it was the sinner who needed Him more than anyone else. In Mark 2:17 Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
In Matthew 11:19 Jesus acknowledges that He is known as a friend of sinners. The verse says “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”
You see Jesus spent so much time with sinners that the religious leaders, the church going people, accused Him of being a friend of sinners.
Let’s go back to Mark 2 and read the whole story, let’s read verse 13-17.
New International Version (NIV)
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So, here we have a story of Jesus calling a tax collector to follow Him. We all know the reputation tax collectors had back then and how much people despised them. Then Jesus goes even further. He goes to Levi’s house and many of Levi’s friends who were also sinners and tax collectors were there too. Jesus was having dinner at a sinner’s house and the sinner had all of his sinner buddies over. I can only imagine the comments I would hear if one of our brethren was seen in such a situation. I imagine some of us might react pretty much the same way the Pharisees reacted when they saw Jesus hanging out with sinners. We would question their Christianity and talk to all of church friends about what we saw. Well, Jesus overhead the Pharisees asking His disciples why he was eating with sinners and Jesus took the opportunity to teach them a lesson. He responded that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy and that He didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinners. You see with Jesus it’s always about the heart.
It’s not our mission to sit inside the walls of the church building and cast stones at those who don’t live the way we think they should. I doubt a single one of them would ever desire to know Jesus if all they ever heard from us was condemnation. Our mission is to imitate Christ and go out into the community of unbelievers and share the gospel message with them. It’s our job to love them and serve them so they can see the love of God through our actions. Then through our acts of service and love they might desire to know the source of our love.
As I drive through Rockdale I can’t help but notice that there are a lot of people who appear to be in need of a Savior. There are a lot of people who have many addictions. There are lots of people who are poor and hurting. There are many who have just never been told the story of God’s love for them and how Jesus died so they could have eternal life. Many people are searching for something to fill the emptiness they are experiencing in their lives and they think it can be found in the things of this world. They think sleeping in on Sunday mornings, playing golf, going fishing, or making lots of money will fill that emptiness, but what they don’t know is that there’s nothing of this world that can fill that emptiness because we weren’t made for this world. The only thing that can fill that emptiness is a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The problem is that most of us, me included, or too busy sitting inside the church building wondering why our numbers are dwindling instead of going out and delivering the soul saving message of God’s love to a fallen world. Maybe it’s time that we stop smelling like sheep all the time and start smelling a little more like sinners. Maybe we need to spend more time being out in the community serving those who are in need of a relationship with Jesus.