Friend of Sinners
Today I was reminded of a time as a young man how eager I used to be to impress people, to show how mature I was, how good I could be or how popular or liked I was. Partly because of my own insecurities but I used to work hard at impressing people in authority probably because it gave me some kind of status or label. Maybe this is too big an admission to make and maybe it reveals deep hidden secrets of my inner self but I think being honest even if its a bit too honest is still the best policy. Actually I think this is probably true of many people, most of us are keen to portray ourselves in the best light possible to come across as likeable and loveable. Its the reason why quite often we don’t say what we really mean for fear that this will make us unpopular or even disliked. Its quite embarrassing now to realise how hard I used to try to please people.
Fortunately I’ve changed and I grew up (…a bit) and I realised that being aligned with truth is more important then pleasing people or being appreciated. This is not always a comfortable position to be in as sometimes it means being a lonely voice when everyone else is screaming the opposite. Have you noticed that history shows us how true this often is. There are so many examples of people who stood up for truth and justice, for righteousness and Godliness who stood alone when nobody gave them the time of day. later on however sometimes even only after their deaths were they granted the hero status by the populous majority for the principles they stood for, and deserved so. Names like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and many many more. Even today if you look carefully in our lifetime there are people around who don’t fit the normal mould of society, they might be laughed at or ridiculed right now portrayed as fools but my advise to you is watch them closely today as these are the ones likely to be called yesterday’s heroes tomorrow.
As I thought about all this I remembered this is how it was for Jesus during his lifetime too. He was often ridiculed and made a fool of. He had a reputation as a glutton and a drunkard feasting all the time and hanging out with tax collectors1 and sinners ( Luke 7:34) . Ridiculous as it sounds now such was his reputation among the main stream. The first thing we have to realise from that is that He must have spent considerable time with these people to be branded as such, Secondly we realise that He had no interest in his own reputation, as a Godly man or in any kind of way a religious man else he would have spent less time with these unsavoury characters.
in that alone Jesus teaches all of us an important lesson. All too often we spend far too much time and energy on appearing to be good, polite, maybe religious people and so we spend a lot of our time mixing with likeminded folk, people who can help us enhance our image, or people who pander to our ego and tell us how amazing we are. Jesus on the other hand was busy being friends with people who most needed His help.
I smiled at the realisation that in recent weeks I’ve spend more time in pubs then I have in church, nothing to be ashamed about there, its not because I don’t love the people who go to church, but right now I’d rather be known as a friend of everyone then appear to be hiding away in a church with like minded people but not actually doing much. I now actively seek out those who are lonely or in need and every day I look for opportunities to see how I can do more to help the homeless, the needy or the sick. Even if it means I gain a reputation as a drunkard or glutton it would be a far greater reward then any other label which may make me more palatable to the popular views of the main stream.