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Summary: If Jesus had a passion for "sinners" why do they feel so unwelcome in our churches today?

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Illus.: Four Preachers Confess

Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, “Our people come to us and pour out their hears, confess certain sins and needs. Let’s do the same. Confession is good for the soul.” In due time all agree. One of them said that he had a problem with losing his temper on occasion. The second confessed to liking to smoke cigars and the third one confessed to liking golf so much that he would fake being sick so he could play on weekends.. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn’t confess. The others pressed him saying, “Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?” Finally he answered, “It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here.”

Humor: All I will ever need to know I learned from Noah. One, Don’t miss the boat. Two, Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark . Four, Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old someone may ask you to do something really big. Five, Don’t listen to critics, just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six, Build your future on high ground. Seven, Speed isn’t everything, the snails were on board with the cheetahs. Eight, When you’re stressed, float awhile. Nine, Remember the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals. Ten, No matter what the storm, when you are with God there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Over and over again we see that Jesus was condemned for talking to “sinners”. The religious leaders of the day especially the Pharisees considered themselves to be very special people who shunned “sinners”.

Matt 23:23-24

23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Jesus cursed the religious leaders for having their priorities all backwards. They magnified the insignificant and minimized the essentials. They were compulsive about counting leaves and seeds but indifferent about basic ethics.

Jesus borrowed the word weightier from the rabbinical tradition, which had divided the law into light and heavy categories. In their inverted priorities the scribes and Pharisees had reduced such matters as justice and mercy and faithfulness to the light category, and elevated the tithing of garden herbs to the weightier category.

False religion seems to always magnify the insignificant and minimize or entirely ignore the truly spiritual. The worldly is idolized; the spiritual is disregarded.

The gnat and the camel represented the smallest and the largest, respectively, of the ceremonially unclean animals. Pharisees would filter out any small insects that might have gotten into the wine. They were painstaking about formal, ceremonial trivialities but were unconcerned about their hypocrisy, dishonesty, cruelty, greed, self-worship, and a host of other serious sins. They substituted outward acts of religion for the essential virtues of the heart.


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