Dinner with Sinners Like Jesus Taught Us
I’m big on appearances. I want to be thought of as the model Christian woman without actually doing the hard work required to earn the title. Instead of serving and loving and giving of myself, I dress up my life like a Pharisee so that others think I’m worthy of admiration.
One of the ways I curate my life to achieve this illusion is by surrounding myself with others who do all of these things so that I can piggyback on their holiness.
One of the things I avoid doing is bringing into my life anyone who might go rogue or tarnish that reputation.
I wish that I could tell you something different.
I wish that I could give you the story of a woman who loves extravagantly. But I do not.
I do, however, have a different role model for us to examine, one much better than myself, one who was known, not for guarding His reputation, but for earning the title “Friend of Sinners.”
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. 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?”
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.” – Mark 2:15-22, ESV
Jesus didn’t care about His reputation. He didn’t care about what others falsely accused Him of. He cared about reaching the hearts that have been battered and bruised by the pain of the world.
He entered the homes of those no one would enter and sat and hear their stories. Instead of waiting until they were “acceptable” company, He dwelt with them because He saw what we couldn’t – that none of use are acceptable company.
Christ did not give us an example of keeping our lives separate from sinners, He gave us the example of radically loving and embracing sinners into our lives.
I don’t like to pretend like I’ve embraced broken people well. But there have been a few times where, despite myself, God has worked through me and allowed me to forge meaningful relationships with those seeking Him.
And each and every time, something amazing happened.
I saw a glimpse of what happened when I separated myself from others; I became a full-fledged pharisee.
When I guarded my life and viewed people in “us versus them” categories, I began to think more highly of myself than I ought.
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” – Luke 18:9-13, MSG
I need to eat with sinners because I need to be reminded, over and over again, that I am a sinner and that we are not all that different. My sins may be less evident but they are there.
When I sat around my dining room table with friends who were sinners, in desperate need of an encounter with the one who died to save their souls, they didn’t put on a facade. If I asked them, they’d express a humility that my heart desperately needs.
It’s tempting to try to appear perfect and to puff myself up. But Christ didn’t give me that option. Instead, He told me to welcome others and to seek out the lonely.
Jesus didn’t wait until I was perfect to befriend me, He met me in my brokenness, and I’ve been called to do the same to those around me.
It’s hard, humbling, holy work.
And it’s something that is counter-intuitive to our culture.
But it’s crucial to the Gospel that we break down walls of legalism and welcome, in the name of Christ, those who need to meet their Savior into our homes. So today, I encourage you to break out of your comfort zone, and have dinner with sinners.
You might also like:
I Want to be Holy (But It Might Get Messy)
Dear Proverbs 31 Woman, Sometimes I Want to Hate You
How To Turn To Jesus When You Feel Like A Hot Mess
Can I Stop Pretending to be a Good Person?
Since we are all sinners and all need to repent everyday for something I find this very interesting to read. I have friends inside our church and outside. Accepting each other is the key. We should serve and be kind to everyone.
We are all indeed sinners. I apologize if the distinction wasn’t clear – by “sinner” I was referring to someone caught in obvious sin, such as in the tax collector/pharisee story that Christ told.
This really hits home for me. Oftentimes I feel like a fraud that I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to the sinners around me. After all, I’m one of them! Thank you for this honest look at it.
You’re exactly right, Colleen! We are one of them. We should embrace those around us who need Christ as desperately as we do.
Such a great post! I have been focusing on hospitality, but it is hard sometimes. We held a church potluck at our home a year ago. It was an outdoor BBQ right after church. About half way through church a homeless guy walked in with a large black bag. I assume his belongings. When the service ended, two of the ladies walked up to him and invited him to the potluck. One offered to drive him, and to drop him off wherever he wanted to go afterwards. He agreed. Driving from my church to my house, I have to admit, I was a little worried. I don’t often invite homeless people to my house. I should, but I don’t. Kind of a mama bird protecting her nest and all who live in it. But not trusting God. He was the perfect guest. He was thankful for the meal. And thankful for the fellowship. As often happens, an hour or two into the BBQ all of the women had congregated on one side of the lawn, and the men on the other. It was such a blessing to look over and see him sharing stories, and fellowshiping with the men who had welcomed him into their circle. It was a good time. I am so thankful that someone did something that I did not, and invited him to our home. It was a wonderful afternoon for everyone.
That’s so amazing! It’s so important that we, the Church, are known for welcoming in those who need love and support in the name of Christ.
Amy @ Orison Orchards
I love how honest and real you are! You gave me lots to think about!
BaileyAmy @ Orison Orchards
I’m so glad, Amy!
Yes! This is something that the Lord has been speaking into me for quite some time now. I want to be an inviting family. I so want to start tearing down this idea that we have it all together. I know I certainly don’t. And I sometimes feel like I’m a complete hypocrite to write a blog post, or share something on social media when I know all of the other details that aren’t written.
None of us have it all together. It’s so important to break down those barriers by being the brave ones who welcome others into out real lives. <3
english help for busy students
Reading your post you understand that everything amazing that is happening around us is given to us so that we learn something and can see the beautiful around us.