There’s something deep inside me that wants to scream whenever I am talking to somebody who says to me that they only socialize with Christians and that their only friends are Christians. Some even take it as far as not talking to their family members because they aren’t Christians. The people I often find saying these things are parents who have nothing but good intentions for their children and themselves however at the same time this is a disservice to the world and to the Kingdom of God. Yes, yes I understand that we want to surround ourselves and our children with people that will lift ourselves up and push us into a deeper relationship with God and that’s all good and hunky dory but that’s not what Jesus did.
Luke 15:1-2 (MSG) – “By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.”
Jesus did more than simply pass by sinners on his walks to where he would teach next: he stopped to meet these people exactly where they were. He didn’t tell them they are horrible people and are going to burn in She’ol (that’s what Hell is referred to as in the Old Testament) if they don’t repent immediately. Jesus did the unthinkable and the Pharisees and scholars viewed him as a heathen and unworthy to be called a Rabbi.
Zacchaeus is a great example of this new form of compassion Jesus was exemplifying. Here we have a man who was a tax collector. Personally, I hate paying taxes so naturally I have a little uneasy feelings about those that are collecting my taxes. Imagine back two thousand years ago when there was even more corruption in the tax systems for personal gain. Zacchaeus was cheat and a thief who Jesus has every right to walk by and ignore for the little (yes, that’s a pun) cheater of a man that he was. Right? Wrong. Jesus set the example for us to stop and build relationships with sinners so that they may come to know him through us. Zacchaeus stopped and gave his full attention to Zacchaeus and said to him that he’s going to have dinner at his house that night! Now…I don’t recommend going to a stranger and exclaiming to them that you are going to their house for dinner but in this context Jesus was a well respected teacher and it was an honor to have such a person, let alone Jesus, in your house! Through this relationships building Zacchaeus came to see the sins in his life and he repented.
That’s what we ought to do!
Matt 5:16 (MSG) – “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Out of following Jesus’ example we build an active and living testimony of what Christ is doing in our lives! Who wouldn’t want that?
Mark 2:17 (MSG) – “Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.’”
Christians who only talk to Christians are missing the point. That’s like firefighters hosing down the houses that aren’t on fire or as Jesus said it’s like the healthy people “needing” to go to the doctors.
Maybe you grew up a Christian and were raised in the church and don’t have a testimony where God pulled you out of a drug-infested, sex addicted, depression filled life, and as a result iteasy to think “somebody else can witness to these people”. But what if nobody does? Somebody in your generational bloodline had to have not been born into the church. What if the person who first shared Jesus with that person thought to themselves that I’m only going to talk to Christians, would you be where you are today as a result of one person leaping out in faith and making practical use of the Bible as God intended making it a living truth in their lives?
Or maybe you didn’t grow up in church or did and walked away from God at one point in your life. Remember that moment when you first came to Christ? That first time feeling the love that Christ has for you knowing that no matter what we do we can’t do anything to “un-earn” God’s love, that he will love us no matter what?
When I have children and my kids grow up I want them to grow up surrounded by people who love God and will set a good example for them of Christian character and Godliness. However I also want them to make friends with families who are atheists, agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and okay…you get the point. Why? Because I want my children to learn to love sharing the Gospel of Christ at a young age and recognize who needs Jesus and I truly believe that it starts at a place called friendship.
I found myself guilty one time where I realized my only friends were Christians and I only spent time with Christians and in spending my quality time with God he convicted me and showed me that I’m not going to help further His kingdom by spending more time with Christians but by spending time with those who have yet to realize there is a God who loves them. The disciples weren’t people who were training to be rabbis but were sinners and look what they did! We don’t have to be ministers to share the Gospel because God called us all to be sharers of the Gospel. Matthew 28:19 (NIV) says to “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Not “Pastors, go and make disciples of all nations” or “priests” but this was a direct initiative for us all. We are to be disciple makers and this will not happen in our lives if we do not go out of our way to get to know people who do not know Christ.
Otherwise we become stagnant.