The Example of Jesus – Do We Follow It?
Time and time again, I hear Christians talk about the need to be Christ-like. Philippians 2:5 even says for us to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” He is our perfect example and our goal for the way we think and the way we do things. And yet, we seldom implement His methods or His way of treating both the religious and the lost.
Often pastors and church members are careful to not have any contact with the lost, less they give the appearance of evil by association. We are much more comfortable with surrounding ourselves with those who are just like us. But was that the example of Jesus?
This is Jesus:
- Matthew 9:10 And while He was reclining at table, a large number of tax-gathers and NOTORIOUS SINNERS were of the party with Jesus and His disciples. (WEY)
- Matthew 9:11 The Pharisees noticed this, and they inquired of His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with the tax-gatherers and NOTORIOUS SINNERS?” (WEY)
- Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they exclaim, 'See this man! –given to gluttony and tippling, and a friend of tax-gatherers and NOTORIOUS SINNERS!' And yet Wisdom is vindicated by her actions.” (WEY)
- Matthew 21:31 Which of the two did as his father desired?” “The first,” they said. “I solemnly tell you,' replied Jesus, “that the tax-gatherers and the NOTORIOUS SINNERS are entering the Kingdom of God in front of you. (WEY)
- Matthew 21:32 For John came to you observing all sorts of ritual, and you put no faith in him: the tax-gatherers and the NOTORIOUS SINNERS did put faith in him, and you, though you saw this example set you, were not even afterwards sorry so as to believe him. (WEY)
- Mark 2:15 When He was sitting at table in Levi's house, a large number of tax-gatherers and NOTORIOUS SINNERS were at table with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many such who habitually followed Him. (WEY)
- Luke 5:30 This led the Pharisees and Scribes of their party to expostulate with His disciples and ask, “Why are you eating and drinking with these tax-gatherers and NOTORIOUS SINNERS?” (WEY)
- Luke 7:34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, there is a man who is overfond of eating and drinking–he is a friend of tax-gatherers and NOTORIOUS SINNERS!' (WEY)
- Luke 7:37 And there was a woman in the town who was a NOTORIOUS SINNER. Having learnt that Jesus was at table in the Pharisee's house she brought a flask of perfume, (WEY)
- Luke 15:1 Now the tax-gatherers and the NOTORIOUS SINNERS were everywhere in the habit of coming close to Him to listen to Him; (WEY)
- Luke 15:2 and this led the Pharisees and the Scribes indignantly to complain, saying, “He gives a welcome to NOTORIOUS SINNERS, and joins them at their meals!” (WEY)
- Luke 19:7 When they all saw this, they began to complain with indignation. “He has gone in to be the guest of a NOTORIOUS SINNER!” they said. (WEY)
Far from the isolationist idea of separation, Jesus spent time with “notorious sinners” as the Weymouth translation puts it. What does that imply that we as believers trying to be Christlike should be doing? Obviously, this is not for the babe in Christ, but is it for the maturing believer at some point in their growth? Will it cause others to see us in the wrong light?
Yes, I see that people perceived Jesus, who had no sin, as a drinker and glutton (Matt. 11:19) because of those who he associated with. We know that this description by those who hated Him was not true. It did not stop him from spending time with them. Obviously there were things about Jesus that attracted these people to be with Him. I dare say that a lot of that had to do with how He treated them. There was something about Jesus that made them feel comfortable sitting down and talking with Him and inversely, there was something about Jesus that allowed Him to be able to sit down to eat with them. I do not know if He was comfortable sitting down with them, scripture does not say, but He did it. I believe His compassion for them was greater than any lack of comfort that He may have had.
Do not get me wrong, we cannot partake of the lifestyle indulgences and sin of those who are “notorious sinners”, we must keep our standards high and our lifestyle pure. It is in fact by keeping this separation from participating in their sin that we become light and salt. But what good is light if it is never shined into the darkness and what good is salt if it is not spread around?
What is it you must do to make yourself able to sit down with notorious sinners? …to shine your light into the darkness around you? Do you need to figure out how you can realign your schedule so that you can sit down for coffee with those in your community that do not live a Christ centered lifestyle? How do YOU follow this example of Christ? Is this really part of being Christlike?