"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him (Jesus). And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.'"
The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15, vs 1-2
Having an inner city ministry, I do not see many who would say such a thing to us as these Pharisees and scribes said about Jesus. Instead, they say it by their leaving us to go to churches which are more "comfortable." They will be profuse in their compliments about the ministry, but then they will disappear. They do not like to be around those who clearly are "beneath" them and take them out of their comfort zone.
The call to "receive" the lowest of the low of any society is the heart of Christ. It is very true, that all of us are sinners, and therefore in need of saving. But there is a burden, humility, strength and perseverance needed to minister to those whom society labels clearly as "the sinners and tax collectors."
You see – You and I, brothers and sisters, are the sinners and tax collectors, whom God chose to come and minister to. When we see those whom our level of society deems as the cast-aways, the dregs, we would do well to see OURSELVES in that person or persons, and remember that just as the Lord came for them, a people sick and in need of healing, we are no less as sick and in need of healing. It just may not be as obvious...
The lesson of this is that while all of us are the lowest of the low, many times we are blind to this fact which is so evident to God. We are often draped in middle to upper-income society, with it's education, fine homes, good paying jobs, friends, family, cars, vacations and such. These things can be a curse: When they cause us to go blind to the fact that we are in need of a Savior, maybe even more-so than those who have nothing. When our trappings become a trap - instead of making ourselves available to many who would be ministered to, we instead remove ourselves from these whom God would love on.
None of the things we have will be counted as making us deserving of Christ. Only humility and the faith to cry out – "Lord, save me, a sinner!" will gain His ear and Saving Right Hand. This mentality also makes you worthy and able to minister to the Tax Collectors and Sinners. For when you know this, you realize that you are, in fact, the Tax Collector...the Sinner...
Thank You Lord for another day to be close to you. To draw close to you, and then to pour myself out to someone who needs to know you, in Jesus's name, amen!
Love, Pastor Chris
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