Jesus said, in Matthew 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
It’s universally known that Jesus was a friend of sinners. He befriended women, women caught in the act of adultery, Samaritans, tax-collectors, and the list goes on. The interesting thing about the label “friend of sinners” is that it was coined by the very people who were supposed to be more in tuned with God than the common folks. Jesus was painted as a friend of sinners by the religious elite and the Pharisees. In short, it was the religious rulers who determined the righteous and the sinner. In other words, Jesus embraced the MARGINALIZED and the OUTCASTS of the communities He found Himself in.
Having said that, I’m not suggesting we disregard what the Scriptures say, in that we’ve ALL fallen short, because when it comes to God’s Kingdom…yes…we’re all sinners. I am, however, suggesting we look at said comment in the context in which it was spoken. Jesus’ opposers were the ones who made said statements and it was Jesus’ opposers who categorized said marginal and outcast people.
Taking Jesus’ lead, we should look for ways to embrace the marginalized and the outcasts of every community we find ourselves in (and, yes, this includes inside church communities) and become their “friends”. The majority of any community has an innate way of determining the “ins” from the “outs”. I call it the “cool” kids syndrome. If you’re not a part of the “cool” crowd and if you don’t conform to their way of living, then you’re considered a “geek”, an outsider, or, in the context of the passage, a sinner. Dare I say, if the church has a standard in which people are welcomed through the doors of its buildings (the homeless guy, the college kid who reeks of alcohol, the gay, the lesbian, the transgender, the bi-sexual, the tatted up pierced female painter, the non conformed church patron), then we should break down the barriers and open our arms of embrace.
Better yet, we should take the entirety of Jesus’ lead and be willing to step into the “sinners'” world and share the love of our Savior in their context. We should live in a way that we eventually break the barriers between “us” versus “them” until “we” become “us”.
Call me crazy, but I think this is a wise godly way to live. After all, as Jesus concluded, “wisdom will be justified by her deed.”
How about you?