Our generation needs to understand that Jesus hung out with many different types of people, in order to bring them the full salvation that He offered. He hung out with:
A despised tax collector (Matthew 9:9), An insane hermit (Mark 5:1-15), The Roman Governor (Mark 15:1-15), A young boy (Mark 9:17-27), A prominent religious leader (John 3:1-21), A homemaker (Luke 10:38-42), A lawyer (Matthew 22:35), A criminal (Luke 23:40-43), A synagogue official (Mark 5:22), Fishermen (Matthew 4:18-20), A king (Luke 23:7-11), A poor widow (Luke 7:11-17; 21: 1-4), A Roman Centurion (Luke 7:1-10), A group of children (Mark 10:13-16), A prophet (Matthew 3), An adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), The Jewish Council (Luke 22:66-71), A sick woman (Mark 5: 25-34), A rich man (Mark 10:17-23), A blind beggar (Mark 10:46), Jewish Political Leaders (Mark 12:13), A group of women (Luke 8:2-3), The high Priest (Matthew 26:62-68), An outcast with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19), A royal official (John 4: 46-53), A young girl (Mark 5:41-42), A traitor (John 13:1-3; 27), A helpless and paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12), An angry mob of soldiers and police (John 18:3-9), A woman from a foreign land (Mark 7:25-30), a doubting follower (John 20:24-29), An enemy who hated Him (Acts 9:1-9), and a Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-26)
Now, some of us may not know terms like “Samaritan”, which was a half-breed pagan/Jew or “Centurion”, which was a Roman Government official. But most in this list make sense to us today. I guarantee that all of us have a few in that list that we don’t know how to love or deal with the way Jesus would. I think we should look at the scripture reference for all the people in that list that we don’t like, or know how to deal with right, and study how Jesus dealt with that person. Followers of Jesus are called to imitate Him fully, and not just in the ways that come more naturally than others.
A lot of people in my generation seem to say “Jesus hung out with lepers, prostitutes, crack-heads, emos and indie-rockers man! He hated the bourgeois of his time!” A lot of people in the evangelical world seem to infer by their lifestyle that Jesus only hung out with corrupt tax collectors, government officials, and the Religious people of His time. Obviously, the list above proves that both of these camps are right in one sense, and in another way, missing the big picture. The thing that’s wrong about both is that they pretend that Jesus only hung out with the people they’re comfortable with. But He hung out with every type in society. He showed the outcasts compassion and mercy. He showed the arrogant some pretty stunning truth that had to knock them off of their self-built pedestals. He showed each person God’s way, and according to their faith, He granted them salvation through Him. Some received Him, and some didn’t, and He knew who would and who wouldn’t. Either way, He told people what they needed to hear.
So I challenge the cynics to put a picture of Donald Trump, George Bush and Britney Spears on their wall. To pray for them and think about people like them. These people deserve the love of the Savior.
I equally challenge the corporate business types to put a picture of a homeless person, a starving AIDS victim, and a prostitute on their wall, and pray for them and think about people like them. These people deserve the love of the Savior.
I challenge hard-core feminists to put a picture of their favorite chauvinist on their wall and pray for them.
I challenge hard-core chauvinists to put a picture of their favorite feminist on their wall and pray for them.
I challenge Anti-War Liberals to put a picture of Richard Nixon and an American War General on their wall and pray for them.
I challenge Pro-War Republicans to put a picture of an anti-war protester, and an Iraqi soldier on their wall and pray for them.
I challenge myself and all of us, that we ought to put up pictures in the walls of our mind. People like Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, members of the Ku Klux Klan, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden. These are terrible, wretched people like us. And we should mentally pray for even the most evil people of our age and ages past. Even they deserve, and desperately need the love of the Savior. We all do.
I’m not saying I’m good at practicing grace. But I know that God’s grace is way more immense than mine. And I need to be stretched outside of myself as often as possible.
Being rejected for truth and mercy that could only come from Jesus is a good thing. If we’re rejected by any people group at all because we don’t like them or want to take a dig at them, that’s wrong. It’s like Doug, a good friend and missionary from Egypt told me. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard: “Make sure that people are stumbling over Jesus because of you, and not just stumbling over you.” It’s crucial that followers of Jesus continue to be more in line with His Will and Way.