A good friend from Taos days, Jeff Boyer, spotted this arrangement in a magazine rack, featuring a magazine containing the entire New Testament, and I weighed in, “Jesus hung with wine drinkers and sinners, so it’s appropriate his Word does the same.”
Makes sense, right? But do his followers match the positioning of the mag? Do we get a bit offended when a magazine of the Bible gets surrounded by four marijuana, one TV, one monster, and three military mags? Do we have significant relationships with those who don’t share our Lord? Do we restrict our social media connections to those who think like we do? If so, then maybe we don’t fully follow the one we claim to.
Jesus acknowledged that those he hung with opened him up to accusations of overindulging, “John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’” (Matthew 11:18-19, NLT). Kind of like the NT mag surrounded by pot ones.
He also treated sinners with gentleness, reserving his harshness for those who say they followed God but chose to act in condemnation. Read the overall passage of the woman caught in adultery, John 8:3-11, and see how the last verse reveals Jesus’ heart, “Neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin.” What a sweet blend of accepting sinners and moving them not toward judgment but right living.
Jesus crafted a fine distinction of how we relate to others, beginning with our basic stance of being countercultural, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world” (John 15:19). We don’t fully fit into the world. Our values change. Our behavior changes. Our loyalties change. But although we don’t fit, Jesus left us here to impact it, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one” (John 17:15, NLT).
Jesus calls us the light of the world, and where do lights belong? Where darkness exists, darkness that needs light. So maybe we all should strive to be like that NT magazine. Surrounded by some who really need Him.
Kick Starting the Application
How long have you followed Jesus? Have you noticed the typical trend of soon losing about all significant connections with unbelievers? How many relationships do you have with those who reject Jesus? Do you avoid the HUGE sinners? Do you hang around any places where unbelievers are likely to be?
After reading this post, do your answers trouble you? Should they? What two things can you do this week to change your position in culture? Will you continue to make those changes?