Summary: Why do Christians tend to "circle the wagons" and only hang out with fellow believers?
A Troubling Question: Why do many Christians have so few non-Christian friends?
- Matthew 9:11.
- Today there seems to be surprisingly little voluntary relationship between Christians and non-Christians. Of course, there is interaction at work and at Wal-mart, but many Christians seem to spend the vast majority of their time with fellow believers, while non-Christians often say they don’t have a serious Christian among their friends.
- What was the big deal with tax collectors? They were considered to be traitors to the Jewish cause because they were working for the Roman government.
- This, of course, is a two-way problem, because it’s also true that many non-Christians have a low opinion of Christians and aren’t really that interested in being around them. There’s some overlap in these two problems, but we’ll be concentrating on the one aspect of the issue.
- It’s telling to listen to the tone of the Pharisees’ statement. They are just flabbergasted that Jesus would want at all to be around these “unclean” people, these lowlifes. This is not merely an academic question for them or a matter of mental curiosity. They deeply cannot conceive of why someone who claims to be a godly teacher would be in this crowd.
- It’s important for us to hear them because they’re a lot like a lot of churches and a lot of Christians. “Why would you want to be around them?” “I don’t like talking to him.”
A Picture: Is church supposed to be a spotless laboratory or a working hospital?
- Matthew 9:12.
- This is a crucial statement that Jesus is making here. In fact, it’s important enough that this story is repeated in the first three gospels.
- Being around the “sinners” is not simply an add-on to what He’s doing on this planet – it’s at the core of why He came in the first place. I came for those who are sick.
Gut Check: The extent to which they love Jesus but not us is the extent to which we’re not like Jesus.
- Matthew 9:10.
- One simple fact is that Jesus apparently like being with them.
- We do need to acknowledge that many of the “sinners” eventually walked away from Jesus for various reasons, primary among which were the spiritual demands He made, their dislike for the truth, or a misunderstanding of who Jesus really was.
- That’s important, but it doesn’t change the fact that there was something about Jesus that drew people to Him – people who thought little of the religious leaders of the day. Something was different about Him.
A Church That Looks More Like Jesus:
1. Don’t lose sight of grace.
- Matthew 9:13.
- Grace is important to keep in mind as an antidote to spiritual pride.
- Going back to the earlier statement, you could also say that the extent to which people dislike us may also indicate the extent to which we’ve misunderstood grace.
- Being holier-than-thou comes right from this source.
- One of the biggest complaints from non-Christians is the judgmental attitude that some Christians have.
- It becomes a lot easier to love the sinner and not the sin when we remember that God did that for us.