Reaching Sinners


            Then the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.  And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  So he spoke this parable to them, saying:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15: 1-7.)


                The religious leaders despised Jesus because he ate with sinners and social outcasts.  The priests and teachers of the law were absolutely obsessed with ritualistic purity.  Most avoided talking too, or even brushing up against those they deemed ungodly [The Jewish people customarily ate food in extremely intimate ways.  They shared cups and dipped bread in to communal bowls; eating supper meant sharing saliva; therefore they believed that whoever you dined with, you became one with.  In turn, sins were readily transferred from one person to another.  For example, they believed that eating with a prostitute made them prostitutes; eating with a murderer made them murderers.]  The Pharisees avoided fellowship with sinners. Jesus however saw them as God’s children; he fellowshipped with them; ate with them; and loved them; in turn many lost sheep did repent and receive salvation.

                One day a man approached me for help.  He had been a recovering alcoholic for years, but had fallen back in to his old lifestyle.  His clothes were ragged and he smelled rancid; he appeared sick and his hands were shaking badly.  I prayed with the man, bought him some food and gave him a bible; I also helped him enter a treatment center.  At one point I even had to drive his car.  When I approached the vehicle and opened the door, a plume of awful stench struck my nostrils.  He had been passing out in and urinating all over the front seat.  I didn’t want to endure the horrible smell; nor did I desire to sit in human waste.  But God spoke to my heart; I instantly understood that getting dirty was, and is, a necessary part of spreading the gospel.  I sat in that urine; I drove that car; and in turn, I reached a man for Jesus Christ.

                Jesus himself wasn’t afraid to get dirty.  He ate with, lived with, and reached out to sinners.  His most important mission was to save the lost; our mission is the same as his.  We shouldn’t be afraid of getting dirty; nor should we push sinners away; instead we must invite them in; we must embrace them and love them.  They are God’s children; they are His precious possession; they are the treasure; they are the prize.  No matter how filthy or evil a person might be, God never stops seeking them; He never gives up, and He never grows tired.  He is full of mercy and grace, and in Him all repentant sinners can find rest for their souls.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we always seek the lost.  May we never be afraid of getting dirty.  May all come to repentance and reconciliation.  Give us strength and wisdom to reach out to others.  Provide us with more of Your Holy Spirit.  May we have countless opportunities to testify of Your Son; that the world may know of Your gracious gift of salvation.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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