A few weeks ago, I overheard a conversation that I’ve been thinking about a lot ever since. A woman was talking to a man about Christian people who seeemed to be judgmental and wanted to force their views on everyone. I heard her say that “Jesus never ostracized anybody.” And I thought it was just the typical conversation headed toward, “Christians are so judgmental, but the Bible says not to judge, so they’re all hypocrites,” but then I heard her say something else:
She said, “It’s like they’re so Christian that they’re not Christian anymore.”
And I started to think about what that meant. On the surface it makes no sense, but I think that what she was saying was this: Christians get so wrapped up in legalism, they get so wrapped up in wanting to make everything black and white, us and them, and Good Christian People do x, y, and z, therefore that person who is not doing x, y, and z is not a Good Christian Person and we don’t have to associate with them, that we forget how we used to be.
We forget that there but for the grace of God go I. We forget that people and relationships are messy, and we forget that Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors and gay men and adulterous women and gluttons. People that we often judge for even walking in the doors of a church. “How dare she come in here, she’s a stripper.” And we forget that our own salvation and our own lives are just as messy, and just as messed up. We need Jesus as much as they do. You don’t get saved and then need him less.
But we do it because it’s easy.
We do it because it’s much cleaner, and nicer, and less involved than having to go hang out with and be the gospel to people who don’t have the slightest inkling of who Jesus is, because they haven’t met him yet.
But what we have to remember is that Jesus came after us.
He pursued us.
He stays with us, even when we screw up and the sin that’s deeply embedded in our hearts comes out.
He’s still there, no matter what.
And we should be that to the best of our ability, to the people around us. We should be using our circle of influence for Him, asking that He use us among people who absolutely don’t know Him.
And if you’re not making legalists uncomfortable by hanging out with such unholy people, then you have to ask yourself: are you really living on mission?